February 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Has a Context

Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.
Ps. 147:1-7 

What wondrous news this is. The One who created the stars and knows their names reserves particular love for the outcast, the brokenhearted, the wounded, the downtrodden. I believe it is necessary to daily give God thanks. But in Psalm 147 my thanksgiving has a context. If I can only thank God for blessings that are peculiar to me, my family, my friends, or members of my own church, then I'm doing it wrong. If my gratitude is limited to the vastness and beauty of creation, that's not enough. Of course I should remember all these things in my prayers, but I need to pay special attention to God's love for the poor and oppressed. That's what this psalm—and many others—seem to want to teach me: My thankfulness needs to include God's love for the down-and-out.

Once I have learned my lesson and begun to give thanks for those whom God cares for most, then I would be a coldhearted Christian indeed if I weren't moved to order my life according to my Creator's affections, my Redeemer's priorities, and the Holy Spirit's leading.

Thank you, O God, that in your written word and in the Word-Made-Flesh, you have shown me your priorities. As I thank you for the wonders of creation and for my own blessings, let me also pause to thank you that you care for those who are too often ignored by those who say they believe in you. Give me the discernment, courage, and love to act on what you teach me, in the Name of him who taught me to pray...

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