Happy Thanksgiving

Cross-posted from a post I wrote for my wife’s devotional list.

1A praise song, for David.
I will exalt you, my God and King,
I will bless your name forever and ever.
2I will bless you every day,
I will praise your name, forever and ever.
3YHWH is great and fully deserves praise.
No one can fully comprehend his greatness.
4One generation praises your works to the next,
They tell of your heroic deeds.
5Of splendor, honor, and majesty,
Of your marvelous deeds I will sing! — Psalm 145:1-5 (HN)

The Psalms are a wonderful book, not only for the many things we can learn from them, but because they provide us with something to read or to pray for almost any mood and any occasion. When we’re down, there are laments (Psalm 28). When we’re up, there are short, lively praise Psalms (Psalm 150). In trouble, we find prayers for safety and rescue (Psalm 140). Ready to meditate? Look for Psalms of wisdom (Psalm 104), telling you of God’s power (Psalm 29), his law (Psalm 19, Psalm 119), and his covenant (Psalm 89). Angry? You can even find some Psalms with a tone of vengeance (Psalm 137). Overcome by temptation? There are Psalms of penitence (Psalm 51, Psalm 32). (The Psalms in parentheses are just examples.)

There is a time and place for all of these things, and there are ways for us to bring our joys and our sorrows to God on all those occasions and more. God can handle the way you’re feeling and can help to lift you up from wherever you are to place your feet on a rock.

But there is something that we find easy to leave out of our life, and that’s praise. I know some of you will wonder just what I mean. After all, you praise the Lord in church on Sunday. Perhaps you play praise music in your home during the week. I know some people who leave songs of praise on the CD player 24/7. That’s not a bad thing.

But have you ever come to a time of prayer when you have a hard time finding something for which you can thank God? Maybe you are having one of those days in one of those months in one of those years, or at least it feels like it. The idea of expressing praise to God seems hypocritical in some way. You’re not feeling thankful, why should you speak thanks? If you’ve never been in such a place, I envy you. If you understand what I’m talking about, read on.

Even when you don’t feel thankful, there are things to be thankful for. I recall sitting down to eat one night recently after a day in which almost everything went wrong. I did not feel like praising God or thanking anyone. I started my prayer by saying, “Lord, you know I’m not feeling thankful right now, but I’m going to thank you anyhow.” Once I had said that, I started to remember things for which I really was thankful. There were blessings the day before, and I knew there would be blessings the day after, and at a minimum, I could thank God that I had a roof over my head and a meal to sustain me while I yelled at him!

There are Psalms for your bad moods. Take advantage of them. Realize that you can be honest with God. But remember the Psalms for all the time. “I will bless you every day!” Yes, even on the bad ones. Even on the day of your death. “Of splendor, honor, and majesty . . . I will sing.” God’s splendor, honor, and majesty don’t diminish when I have a bad day.

There may be a duty here, a duty to praise, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the benefit of praise. If I deny myself the opportunity to praise God when I’m down, I’m going to stay down. Things are going to get worse, not better. I need to praise, because I need to get out of the pit and get on with life. Psalm 145:1-5 gives me that opportunity. These things are not things that change with the moment. They are there all the time. You can honestly praise God, no matter what.

“I will bless you every day!” Call that a plan!

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