As the father of a child with severe disabilities, one of the things I am asked frequently is "what can I do for you?" I can understand that. We are oriented toward action. And if we can’t be doing something for another person, then it can feel like we aren’t really expressing our care.
But sometimes the "doing" is actually trusting and resting in something other than ourselves.
Like the word of God.
A Thanksgiving Reflection
Last week Joe Scheumann, Development Assistant at Desiring God, wrote a Thanksgiving reflection for Desiring God’s prayer and donor society, the Philippian Fellowship. I was looking for a pleasant, appropriate, God-centered piece to encourage our friends in this season.
But God had different plans for how that reflection would impact me. Joe writes:
Have you ever wondered why the Bible puts such a large emphasis on thanksgiving? I’m not talking about the holiday, but the posture of the heart which expresses thankfulness to God in thought, word, or deed. Among many other virtues, the Bible presents thanksgiving as an essential character quality that ought to dwell in the hearts of all believers . . .
God used those lines to reveal that my heart was not really in that posture of thanksgiving. It's not that I have shake-the-fist-at-God kind of thoughts. It's more like whispers of discontent and unbelief just waiting for the 'right' circumstance to increase their volume.
But the whispers of discontent don't have a chance when Jesus is here. Joe continues,
Perhaps Paul's most striking statement about thanksgiving is in Colossians 2:6–7. He says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving."
Paul’s command is that they are to walk in Jesus. He unpacks this by describing what has happened and then by saying what is to continue happening. Paul says they have been “rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.” Paul describes what it means to continue to walk in him by saying that they are to be “abounding with thanksgiving.”Thanksgiving is essential to the Christian life because it's an expression, whether in thought, word, or deed, of our satisfaction in who God is and what he has done for us in Jesus (Colossians 2:9–10; Ephesians 5:1–2). It's essential because it flows from the understanding that the Lord’s steadfast love endures forever and that his faithfulness is to all generations (Psalm 100:5).
Point to Jesus
The world, Satan, and my own sinful heart are oriented away from thanksgiving. The best way to help someone like me is to point me to Jesus. Remind me who Jesus is and what he has done. Remind me that he has taken care of my greatest problem, which is my own sin, and that he is sovereign over everything else I could ever face.
And may God give us grace, in Joe's words, that our speech, prayers, and life would overflow to God in thanksgiving for his goodness and countless mercies in Christ.