Today we begin to look at a series of Psalms of Thanksgiving. These are songs of gratitude by worshippers who are thankful for one of a variety of answers to prayer for deliverance, victory, restoration, healing, etc.
In America, we have come to have a traditional day set aside to ponder that for which we have to be thankful. This originated from a series of these days that were set aside during the Civil War. Imagine that – in the midst of the most grueling time in our nation’s history, there was a sense of need to express gratitude to God.
We may not always feel that our circumstances lead toward much of an attitude for thanks, as in the midst of pain and suffering our minds are turned away from that which we possess as God’s blessings and grace. But when objectively measured, away from the immediate context of pain, the scales will always show that the blessings outweigh the sorrows.
Really? How can that be? There are people—even those who name the Lord—who seem to suffer pain upon pain.
Life itself is a blessing. God could have justly judged our original parents in the Garden and none of us would have ever existed. Our very lives are due to God’s grace. Beyond that, on the other end of life, we have the great and sure promise of the redemption of our earthly bodies for an eternal one that shall live forever in God’s presence. So, how many sorrows does it take to outweigh these truths?
God has blessed us all, and when we acknowledge such, we in turn bless God. And that is easy to understand and imagine. He delights in our gratitude and praise.
I’ll let the guilty go nameless here, relative to which of my five boys I’m speaking of … and at this point, this is a humorous family story. This particular child on one of his birthdays—I would guess around age six or seven—was opening his presents. He quickly went from one to another and seemed displeased, disappointed, and bored with what he was getting. The attitude was so bad that we took his presents away from him at the end of the day, and he didn’t get them back until Christmas! It was a lesson learned.
Another of our boys was always so excited and thankful about anything that we gave him. He saw nothing but the good in it and could not contain his excitement and gratitude—which overflowed out of him with smiles, hugs, and thanks. I remember one time when seeking out a possible medical remedy for a problem he was facing, the doctor asked the question, “What do you most like about this boy?” And without any hesitation my wife and I were able to immediately answer about what a wonderful attitude of gratitude he had about anything given him or done for him.
If we as earthly parents were annoyed on one occasion but blessed on the other, how much more would God not be likewise in light of His incredible and abundant grace in our lives?
And this is the picture we see today in Psalm 30. We see a song of David where he reflects upon tough times and God’s deliverance. Though there was difficulty—even God’s anger and discipline—the grace and mercy of God far outweighed it. God’s blessings were bigger and better than the pain.
David expresses in this Psalm that his deliverance had the benefit that he could again be a worshipper of God who expresses his gratitude for others to hear.
I doubt that my life is too very different from most of you. I would think that, like me, you all can recall some occasions in your life where a set of circumstances or events could have led to your demise. But God delivered you, and it gives you a sense of renewed gratitude for that salvation.
In college, I was one day out for a long run with some other athletes through the city of Philadelphia, and we were almost back at the school—crossing the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Logan Circle, if you know the city (picture the movie “Rocky”). The traffic there goes clockwise around a circle, and not thinking clearly of that pattern, I instinctively looked to the left from which, of course, nothing was coming. Not thinking and not looking to the right, I stepped off the curb in front of a SEPTA city transit bus going clockwise around the circle. One of the others grabbed my hood and pulled me back just in time. It was a very close call.
Just less than a year ago, my pulmonary emboli could have had a terminal result. About 20% do not survive what happened that evening. I did not even know I was in a dangerous health situation until it was all over and I was told how God was good to me!
Those are just two examples. There have been others; there have been some I likely don’t even know about how God delivered.
And though I have some complaints, irritations, fears, feelings of injustice, etc., I do understand (though not every moment of every day!) that my reasons for gratitude far outweigh any of these bumps and bruises upon the highway of life.
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.
1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
7 Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
8 To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.