I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Psalm 92:1-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Thanksgiving for Vindication
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath Day.
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The Psalmist says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” It is good. Gratitude is powerful for several reasons.
First, gratitude acknowledges that God is the source of all that we are and all that we have. The lack of gratitude isn’t just forgetting to say “thank you.” It is, in reality, a failure to acknowledge the source of all that we are and all that we have. We speak of “giving” thanks because “thanks,” from a Middle English word for gratitude, is something we give in return for what we have received. When we receive, we give our thanks. We give our gratitude.
The power of gratitude is the power to get us outside of ourselves and to get us out of believing that we are on our own to acknowledging that God is the source of life and wholeness and all that we are and all that we have.
Whether we are fully conscious of it or not, we have received great gifts from God. We are not self-made people. As the gospel of John expresses it, we have received “grace upon grace.” Sometimes we hear the phrase or use the phrase, “He is a self-made man” or “She is a self-made woman.” The problem with that phrase is that it is not true. Even our ambition and our willingness to excel are gifts from God. We ought to take pride in our accomplishments and enjoy them–but we ought to remember that God is the source and give thanks.
Second, research shows that people who count their blessings may find themselves sleeping better, exercising more and caring more about others. People who remind themselves of the things they are grateful for — people who count their blessings one by one, consciously, every day — show significant improvements in mental health, and even in some aspects of physical health. And these results appear to be true whether you are a healthy college student or an older person with an incurable disease, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. [Brown, David. “Counting blessings is healthful.” The Washington Post, March 10, 2003, A11]
Third, gratitude leads us to see life in a new way.
Rabbi Harold Kushner, in his book, Who Needs God, writes, “Religion is not primarily a set of beliefs, a collection of prayers or a series of rituals. Religion is first and foremost a way of seeing. It can’t change the facts about the world we live in, but it can change the way we see those facts, and that in itself, can often make a difference.”
Gratitude is, in reality, a way of seeing. What happens when our lives are marked by gratitude? We find peace, we find contentment, we are more loving and accepting of others and our lives evidence joy.
Finally, gratitude leads us to live life in a certain way.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when there were many Vietnamese refugees immigrating to our country, churches were often the sponsors of these families. In one of those churches, the pastor reported that a child in one of those families greeted him on the Sunday before Thanksgiving with a greeting she had been working hard to learn. She said, “Happy Thanksliving.” Thanksliving—I like that word. It reminds us that gratitude becomes a lifestyle—we live it!
Thanksliving is when gratitude gets very concrete. It is a way of living in response to God’s amazing love and grace. It is loving because God loves us. It is giving because God has given us grace upon grace. It is forgiving because God has forgiven us. It is passing on to others what we ourselves have received.
How is the best way to say thank you? It is to pass on our blessings to others. It happens in families all the time. We give thanks for our parents’ love by being loving parents. It happens in our communities all the time. We give thanks for all the community has done for us by giving back to the community. It happens in churches all the time. We give thanks for all the church has done for us by giving back to the church.
I had a poet friend, Mary Craig, who in one of her poems penned words that have stuck with me through the years: “We pay our debts to the past by putting the future in debt to us.”
That is living in gratitude.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster