“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”
I love the brute honesty of author, Don Everts, who wrote; “Thanksgiving has been difficult for me because so much of the well-being of my soul tends to depend upon my day-to-day circumstances. I am a slave to my own personal weather systems. If it’s been a good week, I have an easier time feeling good about what Jesus has done for me on the cross. But if I am a little depressed or frustrated, my soul is anything but thankful.” (Everts, God in the Flesh, p. 121.)
We don’t mean to be fair weather friends, but how we express our gratitude reveals our heart. Sometimes when things are going wrong we will look up to heaven with a sarcastic: “Thanks a lot!” We step over blessing after blessing in our race to get to what we want in life, yet at the sign of our first obstacle we forget about all that which has come before.
In Psalm 95 we have a contrast of grateful hearts and ingrates. Verses 1 through 7 are crescendo in praise… for the mountain, the sea, etc. We are told to praise God for all of creation. We are told to bow before him and worship him. We are indeed a flock under his care.
Verses 8 through 11 contrast this picture of trust with the negative example of the Israelites during their desert wanderings. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (95:8-9)
What had they seen? The parting of the Red Sea. The budding of Aaron’s staff. The provision of food and water throughout the journey up to this point. And yet facing a new wasteland withoutwater they begin to quarrel with Moses and Aaron. But it wasn’t leadership they were really arguing with at all… according to Psalm 95, it was God they were testing and trying! Fairweather gratitude indeed!
As we enter this season of thanksgiving, let’s take inventory of all that we have seen the Lord do in our lives. A man name Bud runs a homeless shelter for women and children named New Life. He writes: “Before eating together, we gather in a circle, hold hands, and sing a prayer: “Our God is good to us. And so we thank our God, for giving us the things we need, the sun and the rain and the food we eat.” A visitor once asked if that kind of song was appropriate for homeless people. Let me tell you, it is abundantly clear that the people in that room have more sense of thanksgiving and praise than many people in the average suburban pew. They pray unashamedly, just to survive, and thank God for every little blessing that comes their way. (Quoted by Philip Yancey in Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, p. 277.)
With all sincerity cry out to God: “Thanks a lot! Thank you for the mountains! Thank you for the sea! For the sun, the rain and the food we eat! Thank you, Lord! Thanks a lot!”