Cultivating a spirit of gratitude
“Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to God.” (Psalm 28:6-7)
There is something remarkably refreshing about these two verses. Throughout Psalm 28 the psalmist wrote of his fears and worries. He wrote about the threat of evil he was facing. He told of the imminent danger around him. Yet, with all of these things in mind the poet goes on to give thanks to God for his strength and provision.
This ending is refreshing not just because it is happy, but because the entire psalm reflects the reality of the world we inhabit. Like the psalmist, each day we face any number of trials, tribulations, temptations, and sorrows. Life’s composition contains anxieties and evils we’d probably rather not face.
This psalm is honest, and yet not cynical. The author knows that God is good, even though he faced evil. He knows God is true, even though he was slandered by liars. He knows God helps, even though he was forsaken by men. It is the reality of God’s revelation that leads him to exult and give thanks, not his strength or perseverance through challenging experiences.
This Psalm might have a “happy ending,” but we must not overlook the unhappy moments along the way. For the times of tribulation and even temptation help us to comprehend more deeply the goodness of God and his provision for his people. When we recall the dark and difficult experiences of life, the light of God’s love shines bright. When we remember what we’ve undergone, God’s steadfastness is all the more amazing. Not because he needs the opposition to display his wonders, but because we do.
As we approach Thanksgiving, let us be honest about the ways in which God has been our strength and shield. As we tell our friends and family the things for which we are thankful, let us drink deeply of God’s perfect faithfulness, for he works all things together for the good of those who love him.
Rev. Will Stockdale is Ministry to State's Director of D.C. ministry.