1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. - Psalm 107:1-3
If there’s one thing I’ve found to be true and constant in my life, it’s that when God says to do something, He says it for a reason. So because God calls us to be thankful in this passage, we need to work toward developing an attitude of gratitude. But that’s not all He says in those first two verses. He also tells us to “say so.” We’re not just supposed to be thankful in our hearts, we’re supposed to speak our gratitude out loud to others. We don’t have any problem speaking our complaints out loud to others, so we shouldn’t hesitate to speak our gratitude out loud. Can you imagine what this world would look or sound like if people shared how thankful they were as much as they complained?? I want to live in that world.
The world we do live in keeps our focus on the horizontal things in our lives, and we can easily become distracted from vertical worship. The noise of what is happening horizontally can be so consuming that we forget who He is and what He has done. When we fail to look up, we begin to define ourselves by what’s happening horizontally in our lives. We tend to seek our validation from things in front of us - our relationships, our careers, our health; and when they fail us, we end up crushed or in despair. Each one of those will eventually fail us in some way, so if that’s where we’re finding our identity or placing our gratitude, we’re going to end up empty and disappointed. We may go to church on Sunday to be reminded we need to be seeking our identity and expressing our gratitude vertically, but the things going on horizontally have such a pull, we often find ourselves in a negative place by Monday afternoon.
Every day, we need to pause and reflect on the truth that we were fearfully and wonderfully made by the creator of the universe. Every single part of your being - from the individual color of each strand of hair on your head to the shape of your toes, from your personality and physical gifts to your intelligence and individual affinities - all of it was carefully chosen and brought together perfectly by the King. He also chose the absolute perfect placement for you - He picked your family, your home, your husband, your children, your job - all before you were even born. There are no mishaps or errors in who you are or where He placed you, the Creator of the universe doesn’t make mistakes. Now, many of us have the head knowledge that all this is true, but we also carry around a dissatisfaction with some aspect of God’s choice for our lives in our hearts. If we’re being honest, there are times when we’d like to sit up on that throne of creation and make ourselves into who we want to be. How dare we tell the Creator of all things that He made a mistake! Oh, the arrogance.
The truth is that God made us as we are, and He did so perfectly. And because He made us, we should be worshipping Him. We should be singing His praises for everyone to hear. Some of us hesitate to speak gratitude out loud because we live in a culture that encourages the complainer and we don’t want to seem different or weird ("I mean, who would rightly thank God for cancer out loud?"), or they mistakenly believe speaking gratitude is in direct contrast to the humble attitude we are supposed to be cultivating as believers ("I don’t want people who are struggling to think I’m rubbing in their faces how awesome my life is"). When we speak the words of gratitude out loud, though, it impacts the people around us in powerful ways - it changes them and it changes us. And because He calls us to speak it out loud, when we do, He blesses us abundantly.
I know what He says to be true first-hand. I’ve woken up every morning through this diagnosis grumbling and complaining about the most recent development - this morning, I could scarcely move my arm from the pain of this mediport they placed yesterday, and reeling from the fact that I will may be losing my hair inside of two weeks. So much, so fast - it’s easy to start complaining. In fact, I woke this morning and began researching the side effects of Taxol first and immediately started spiraling into that dark place, forgetting for a moment that I have a date with His Word every morning. I stopped as soon as I realized what I was doing and turned to His Word where He immediately reminded me to be thankful. His mercies are new every morning. As I sit here each morning and work hard to remind myself of all I have to be thankful for, I feel the bitterness and grumbling fall away. As I type the words and send them out, sharing my gratitude for all He has done in my life with the world, He strengthens and comforts me in ways I can barely explain. Yesterday, I was in a dark place when I woke up, but by the time I got to the hospital for surgery, I was not just happy, I was literally feeling joyful. Waking up this morning, I felt the same dark cloud. But as I type these words, I can already feel it lifting. Praises for His faithfulness.
Press on ~ you are loved
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