The psalms cover the continuum of life’s experiences and emotions: grief, joy, fear, peace, anger, gratitude. These ancient hymns, sung in the context of community, are deeply personal as well. While we understand that these songs include strong emotional experiences, we also affirm that we spend much of life in between times of grief and joy, fear and peace, anger and gratitude. And if we could choose, would we not choose a life of joy, peace, and gratitude over a life of grief, fear, and anger? While the latter waxes and wanes in the lives of God’s beloved, the former is God’s desire for us. The psalms, especially this one, affirm that gratitude is by far the best emotion we can choose to practice, particularly in the midst of our grief, fear, and anger.
Something good happens within us and others when we express our gratitude and say “thank you.” Our soul smiles. Our neighbor smiles. Imagine how expressing our gratitude to our Creator gladdens God.
When we seek God in everything, even in the most mundane parts of life, we find cause to be grateful. We thank God for answered prayers, for a loved one’s healing, for new work that gives meaning, for safe keeping along the journey. We offer thanks for daily bread, for shelter and clothing, for family and friends. We can learn to breathe a prayer of gratitude for a cool breeze, the perfect rose, a good night’s sleep, or a child’s laughter. Can the first dusting of snow, the warmth of a quilt, or the sound of a flowing stream not also evoke praise and thanksgiving, especially in a world dwelling on the negative, cold, and stoic?
We have much for which to feel grateful and offer thanks. Happiness gurus encourage jotting down three things each day for which you are thankful. The psalmist suggests that list could be much longer.
What am I most grateful for today?
Gracious God, open my eyes to those simple wonders and miracles I take for granted. When I finally see them, give me a grateful heart. Amen.