“O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). Every Christian is called upon to develop this attitude of thanksgiving in their lives. For it is true that God’s love is faithful and enduring—forever. He has given us life and all that is good in it. He has made us free in his own image. That freedom is both exquisitely and painfully revealed in this psalm.
Each one of us has countless reasons to be joyfully thankful for God’s enduring love. We have experienced that infinite love in its completeness in Jesus Christ. God’s eternal love for us was revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through that love we were redeemed. That redeeming love remains with us to this day in the still, quiet, presence of his Holy Spirit. God’s love is both universal and personally intimate. It knows no bounds, and is offered freely to us. It is his eternal will to love us so. Yet, even knowing this, in the infinite freedom that he created us in, we can reject it, deny it, even hate it.
Psalm 107 gives us several examples of how we often use our infinite freedom both in arrogance and in humility. The psalmist, of course, is remembering the wandering of the Hebrews in the desert for 40 years after God freed them from their slavery in Egypt, as well as many of their other failings during that period of wandering and after their arrival in the Promised Land. But we are to see our own “wanderings” here too. In verse 4 we see that sometimes we wander in deserts of our own making, creations of our own free choices, and we grow hungry and thirsty and our lives, both our physical and our spiritual lives, threaten to “ebb away.” But, then, when we come to realize our errors and humbly and freely cry out to him, his enduring, unconquerable love reaches out to us with his freely willed forgiveness. He “delivers us from our distress” (verse 6). This is the reason why we can give him thanks with joyful shouts.
It is our ignorance and often our arrogance that cause us to “sit in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in [the iron chains of our own rebelliousness] against God’s commands” (verses 10-11). And because of this rebellion, rather than having our selfish demands fulfilled we, more often than not, find nothing but suffering. But, again, when we cry out to the Lord, we find him ready, willing and able to forgive us, to lead us out of our darkness and to “save us from our distress” (verse 13). In every case, when we use our free wills to turn away from God, we are acting foolishly. But when, in that same freedom, used properly, we cry out to God in all humility, his response is always one of love. This is why we are to shape our lives with nothing less than joyful thanksgiving for all the good and mighty deeds God has done for us—personally. The psalmist puts it this way: “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord” (verse 43).
Lord, You are all goodness, kindness, and love. How often we rebel, yet how much more do you love and forgive us when we turn back to you. Help us to see this more clearly and to love you more dearly every day. Let our hearts overflow with thanksgiving for your great love for us. For it is in your love alone that we find the happiness that our eternal souls seek. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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