Thursday, April 8
A Song of Thanksgiving.
Have you ever reached a point in your life when you feel like you really know a lot about one or more things? Then circumstances change, either due to a decision you made or as a result of circumstances beyond your control, rendering and perhaps humbling you to realize that there is so much more to learn and experience? Over the last number of months, I have found myself in that position, particularly as I seek to know more about the beauty in, and challenges of, reading the Old Testament.
This week, I focused on Psalm 116: 1-8 which is listed for tomorrow’s prayer cycle in McCausland’s Order of Divine Service. It is a song of thanksgiving of an individual, a poem written after a difficult time of life has been endured, survived, or overcome. At a time in our lives when we still live in the grips of a global pandemic, and most recently with a further month of lockdown measures and restrictions, I learned in reading this particular psalm that despite these hardships, I, and perhaps you, should still marvel at all we receive from God.
A Lutheran pastor, Karl Jacobson in a 2012 writing on this Old Testament passage remarked,
What do we owe our God in response for all that God has done for us — from the seminal act of creating us as individual living beings, to providing for us in our daily living – (as Martin Luther put it, ‘I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil.’) – to drawing us into the community of the redeemed through the Word?
Here is where my learning something new kicks in. Pastor Jacobson suggests one of the primary elements of a song-of-thanksgiving psalm is reiterated throughout Psalm 116. The pattern of “I ‘x’ because God has ‘y’,” that is so central to the psalm might be an important and fruitful avenue of proclamation for others to hear. He goes on to say,
Congregations and individuals do well to remember, and to bear witness publicly, to those ways in which they have felt God to have been active in their daily lives. Other Christians, other believers, and of course other spiritual seekers need to hear this. When we find ourselves in the midst of difficult times it is of utmost importance that we hear from others that these times can be endured, survived, and overcome, due to God’s care and provision.
Now, current pandemic restrictions hamper congregational efforts to share our personal proclamations in a large group setting. Nonetheless, it may allow you to share your “song of thanksgiving” with one other person – using the pattern as stated in the opening of Psalm 116, “I love the LORD, because He has “__________.”
To equip ourselves to engage with someone else, or perhaps in a small ministry group setting, Pastor Jacobson suggests you and I ask ourselves this question, “Why do I love the Lord?” In answering this fundamental question, we can look to Psalm 116 to generate our own personal a song of thanksgiving and in sharing with another person have it bear witness to all that God has done for you.
Father, I come to You, confessing that I tend to have a heart that is filled with whining and complaining instead of gratitude. Please forgive me. Help me learn to see Your hand at work in my life. I want to trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Right now, I choose to praise You, Lord. Amen.
– A Prayer for Gratitude and Promises from www.crosswalk.com