Buoyed: A Thanksgiving Reflection

“A thankful heart is one of the primary identifying characteristics of a believer. It stands in stark contrast to pride, selfishness, and worry. And it helps fortify the believer’s trust in the Lord and reliance of His provision, even in the toughest times. No matter how choppy the seas become, a believer’s heart is buoyed by constant praise and gratefulness to the Lord.” – John MacArthur

By Sarah Snodgrass, director of local and global missions

I have an exercise that I like to do with teams of students when I take them on ministry trips around the world. I ask them, “If you weren’t around and others had to describe you in one word, how would you want to be described?” Of course, we are called to be known by our love of others (John 13:35), but what else is it about us that others might find winsome and attractive?

My word changes depending on my season of life. Sometimes it’s “generosity”—I want to be known as the one who is willing to give of my time, my talents, my resources. When you need help and don’t know who to turn to, I want to be the face that comes to your mind. Other times, it’s “truthfulness.” I want to be known as the one whose word you can count on. When I say I will do something, you know I’ll follow through. And sometimes, it’s “faithfulness.” I want to be known as someone who will love you, unconditionally. When you need someone to just be there, you’ll find me.

But how often is my primary identifying characteristic as a believer “thankfulness”? When I wake up in the morning, do I thank my Father for the opportunity to be a faithful steward of one more day? When I eat breakfast, do I thank my Provider for the food that is in front of me that so many others go without? When I get in my car in the morning, even with all the rattles and whines as it protests the cold weather, do I thank my faithful Lord for all the many good gifts He has given, completely apart from anything I deserve? And when I step into my office every day, do I sit with a posture of thankfulness before the One who has orchestrated my whole life’s story to bring me to this place, to give me a platform to guide others into His gracious presence?

When we begin to feel that we are entitled to what we have, that we have been given what we deserve, thankfulness will not be a byproduct. We’re not naturally inclined to be thankful for what we feel we’re owed.

But when we understand that we are deserving of absolutely nothing, that every good gift is from the Father (James 1:17), hopefully a deep sense of gratitude follows and ultimately a desire to share those gifts with others.

We may find ourselves in challenging times—if anything, our lives are guaranteed trouble (John 16:33). But in the midst of the heartache, suffering, pain and uncertainty, our hearts are buoyed by constant thankfulness of God’s perpetual, sufficient and complete provision.