Parenting a toddler can be tough. Parents give their time, their energy, their affection, their finances, even their sanity, day in and day out. Yet when they go to the store, they are often assaulted by demands for more stuff. “Mommy, I want, I want.” “Daddy, give me, give me.” Every once in a while, a ray of hope appears. The toddler begins to say “Thank you.” But it doesn’t take long before they discover how to use a well-placed “thank you” as a set-up to demand more.
We older people, teens and adults alike, border on toddler behavior at this time every year ourselves. We set aside a day to express gratitude, only to race to the stores to purchase more the very next day (or even that very night!). How did we end up with Thanksgiving and Black Friday back to back like this?
Don’t worry. I don’t want to assault anyone’s holiday shopping habits in this blog. But I do want to suggest that we take gratitude beyond Thanksgiving and into the Christmas season. And I want to suggest that Psalm 107 will help us to do so. Now would be a great time to pull out your Bible and read that psalm before reading further.
Did you notice the flow of the psalm? It begins with four movements, each of which addresses the common ills of mankind (pain, rebellion, sin, fear). I am willing to bet that you can relate to many if not all of those ills. Each movement ends with the people crying out to God for help, God delivering them, and then this refrain:
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.”
Psalm 107 doesn’t just tell us to cry out when we experience pain, rebellion, sin, and fear. It tells us HOW to cry out: by giving thanks. And it doesn’t just tell us to give thanks, it tells us what to give thanks for. The solution to every problem we face is to cry out to the Lord and to give thanks for his unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. That is, we should give thanks to God for who He is and what He does for us, no matter how bad life gets.
The Psalm ends by noting the division of mankind: the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are those who see (who God is and what He has done) with their eyes and allow sight to become speech. The wicked are those who remain silent, refusing to give thanks to the Lord. Their lack of speech betrays their lack of sight.
This Christmas season, as your friends and family observe your speech (and behavior), will they know that your eyes are open to the goodness of God? Or will they wonder if you know Him at all?
The greatest gift you may ever give to your loved ones is allowing them to see you give genuine thanks to God, so that their eyes might be opened to who He is and what He has done for them.
What will you give this year?
Questions or Comments? Email Youth Pastor Leo Barnes.