I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. Psalm 9:1
What a way to begin a song.
But the truth is…I don’t always feel like giving thanks.
Sometimes my perspective is all out of whack and I’d rather just brood.
Well…I’m just being honest. Isn’t that what you want? Honesty?
David didn’t always feel like giving thanks, either. But he did it, anyway. He had this amazing way of pushing through the darkness he felt in his heart with thanks. And praise. He used it like a weapon.
And let’s face it, we need a powerful weapon sometimes to battle negative feelings and emotions.
To battle ungratefulness. To battle selfishness. To battle pride.
When I’m too focused on my own personal feelings, my own personal entitlement, my own personal agenda, my own personal wants…blah, blah, blah…I will never cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and an attitude of gratitude.
There’s usually always something to be thankful for if we look for it. I wonder sometimes about those in other places and in other countries whose lives are truly oppressed, truly enslaved, truly full of distress and trouble and unspeakable horror and I wonder…do they have anything to be thankful for?
That thought truly makes me weep. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have any words. I really don’t know what to say to that except verse 9 in Psalm 9 says,
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know Your name put their trust in You for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
The Lord is a Stronghold. A high place. A refuge. He is a cliff made of solid rock that sits high in the clouds, offering shelter and security to those who trust in Him.
Those who know Him. And Seek Him.
Even the afflicted. The crushed. The oppressed. The dejected.
I don’t understand it all. I wish I did.
But I know God still wants to be marvelous. He still wants to do wonders among us. He still wants to save His people.
David speaks of this over and over again…
You have rebuked the nations; You have made the wicked perish…vs 5
For He who avenges blood is mindful of them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. vs 12
The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God. vs 17
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. vs 18
My heart is sometimes very heavy when I think of all the trouble, all the distress, all the oppression in the world. But to focus my heart on what I know to be true about God means I have to press through the doubts and the discouragement and the dread. It isn’t easy sometimes. It’s hard. But whoever said battles were easy?
Giving thanks to God with my whole heart does something for me I can’t explain. It changes me from a brooder to a praiser.
I don’t understand it all. But it’s true. It works. I can’t give God just a little bit of my heart, though. I’ve got to give EVERY. SINGLE. BIT. OF. IT.
I found something interesting when I dug a little deeper into the Hebrew word thanks.
It means to throw, shoot, cast. It’s from a primitive root word meaning to hold out the hand; to throw like a stone or an arrow; especially, to revere or worship with extended hands; to cast out or make confession, to praise.
Oh. My. Goodness.
For someone who likes to talk with her hands I totally get this!! (Did I ever tell you about the time I worked as a server in a small town restaurant? I was chatting with a customer one day and embellishing my story with a lot of beautiful hand movements. As my left arm went out and up in perfect form and fashion, her food was delivered at that exact moment and instead of being placed carefully on the table in front of her, my hand put her lunch right smack in her lap. True story.)
When I give thanks to God with my whole heart there’s something inside me that wants to lift up some praise. Literally. Physically. To shoot some praise arrows right at the heart of my enemy! To cast out a praise hook and reel him in for the kill! To throw a praise stone with the band of a slingshot and sink it right into his ugly thick skull!
Do you get what I’m sayin’?
There’s something about giving thanks to God. Just. For. Who. He. Is. that stirs up a holy fire within me.
I thank Him that He is a High and Lofty Stronghold in times of trouble.
I thank Him that He is enthroned forever; He has established His throne for justice.
I thank Him that He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the peoples with uprightness.
I thank Him that He makes Himself known; He executes judgment.
And somehow, thanking Him for what He has done and what He will do gives me a reason to be glad and exult…
Not in the wickedness of this world. Not in the oppression or distress or unspeakable horror…but Just. In. God. The. Most. High. God. The. God. Of. My. Salvation. vs 2 & 14
Where there is Always. Hope.
And what a way to begin a song because even though I may not feel like giving thanks by the time I’m through throwing out praise I will no longer be a brooder. I will have cast out ungratefulness, selfishness, and pride ’cause it’s never about me, anyway.
It’s all about Him and the battle is His.
And that, my friends, is why praise is a weapon.