As I was going through some boxes recently, I ran across some journals from the year after I finished college. Reading through them reintroduced me to a young man who constantly felt like he didn’t measure up spiritually. Each page bled with “I should be,” “I need to be,” and “I feel cold spiritually.” It’s no wonder that I felt distant from the Lord; I was focused on myself and my shortcomings rather than God and His matchless grace in my life.
I know I am not alone. How often do we feel like God is a thousand miles away because all we can think about is how far short we fall? Today’s readings offer a surprising antidote to our consistent hand wringing over our spiritual condition—thankfulness. When our focus is on ourselves and our failures, God will feel distant and praise will not be on our lips. However, when we purposely stop that nonsense and instead look at who God is and the wondrous things He has done, our hearts will be drawn to Him because we will have a never-ending supply of things to thank Him for.
The psalm Asaph and his relatives sing in 1 Chronicles 16 begins and ends with thankfulness. The first call to give thanks to the Lord invites every one of God’s people to become a worship leader who points others to the wondrous works God has accomplished. The emphasis on singing should not surprise us. In the Old Testament, God winning a mighty victory for His people is often followed by a song.
The second call to thankfulness, in verse 34, focuses on giving thanks for the character of God. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” We need to see this twin emphasis on God’s character and His works because they are intimately connected. Have you ever done something sinful or foolish and then said, “That isn’t who I am”? God never has. His acts are always in line with His character.
David focused here and in Psalm 136 on God’s “faithful love” which “endures forever.” God’s “faithful love” moves Him to act for the good of His people, the preservation of His people, and the salvation of His people. The writers of Scripture frequently recognize the beauty of God’s covenant love and celebrate it. In Psalm 63, David said God’s faithful love is “better than life.” God faithfully loves His people and acts on their behalf out of His love for them.
One way to stir your affections for the Lord is to meditate on His attributes and actions as they are revealed in Scripture. As you think, thank God for being who He is and ask Him to help you see His character through His work in your life. As you pray and meditate on this daily, you will be paying more attention and will begin to see the beauty of God everywhere in your life.
Written by Scott Slayton