Some days, thankfulness feels elusive. Things frustrate, people challenge, and situations overwhelm. There's not much to celebrate just now. Yet In these times, the psalms speak to our hearts. They echo our weariness and redirect us back to God’s truth. In the psalms, we can find all of our emotions--from joy and thanksgiving to sadness and anger.
A call to thankfulness arises in Psalm 118. The psalm begins and ends with these familiar words: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” But in between these bookends of thankfulness is a recitation of the difficult times through which God has carried the Psalmist. In the midst of huge challenges, the psalmist reminds our hearts to give thanks. The pain is given a voice, which makes room for gratitude. God hears our cry, and yet holds us together, which is enough to call for praise. As we wrap our days and life in thankfulness, we too will come to know the joy of the Lord.
Psalm 118:22-24 says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” That's rather how God works, turning rejection into a foundation for greatness. Ultimately, Jesus himself is the stone that the builders rejected that has now become the cornerstone of all things. On the cross, Jesus accomplished what we could never do for ourselves. We were dead in sin, and now we live--the only response to such a gift is to live those lives in thanksgiving. This is the day that the Lord has accomplished. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Our eyes can often get distracted from God's daily care and Christ’s great victory by the details of living life. Family and work and activities leave our schedules without room to breathe or think. Our problems get bigger and more tangled, and our God appears less powerful, mostly because we place our confidence in other things and try to fix life on our own. Urgent needs call for attention and completely distract us, and we miss time spent at God’s feet. It is difficult to see through eyes of faith when we are focused on the concerns around us.
But we have a choice each day. Will we focus on our circumstances, or on our God who reigns triumphantly over all areas of life? To us Jesus says, ““I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Our troubles don’t disappear, but they are not eternal. We gain perspective on challenges when we look at them through Christ’s power.
Today, let us choose to shift the focus to Christ reigning victoriously and give him the thanks that he deserves.
Lord, help me to live each day trusting in what you have accomplished for me. Help me to look to you rather than my circumstances. Allow me the joy of trusting fully in you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.