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THANK GOD FOR THE PRESENT
David calls upon us to join him in song in verse 4. “Sing to the Lord
you saints of His, praise His holy name.” Do it now, even if it is a tough
time, and you feel like you are under God’s anger. The good news David says
in verse 5 is, God’s anger only lasts a moment, but His favor lasts a
lifetime. Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the
morning. David is thankful for the present because he is an optimist. No
matter how heavy the present is, the burden will soon become lite, and joy
will replace sorrow. We see here that weeping is no sign of weakness, but
is merely an honest expression of emotion, which even a strong man like
David could show. Being an optimist does not mean you do not feel the
sorrow of present suffering.
How many times have we been there? The cloud cover is oppressive and
living is a chore, and so many things are discouraging. But those days pass
by, and the sun shines again, and we are delighted to be alive. Not
everything in the present is pleasant, but the thankful heart can and will
see values that are missed by the complaining heart. Listen for example to
the insight of this poem–
Thank God for dirty dishes,
They have a tale to tell:
While others may go hungry,
We still are eating well;
With home and health and happiness
We have no right to fuss;
This stack is ample evidence
That God’s been good to us.
The challenge of life is to find a reason to be thankful in what seems on
the surface to be a reason to complain.
There are volumes of testimonies by people who have come to actually
thank God for problems and trials, and even diseases and accidents because
these so-called misfortunes opened their eyes to the fact that they were
going away from God, and they were motivated by their need for God to get
back on the right road. Their burden became their greatest blessing.
Charles Colson in his book Loving God said all of his proud and
sophisticated labor in Government was not used of God–it was his shame,
humiliation, and fall, in the Watergate scandal that God used for His glory,
for when he was down he prayed as David did in verse 10. “Hear O Lord, and
be merciful to me, O Lord, be my help.” God listens to such a prayer, and
most of the thankful people in the world are so, because they know God
listens to the cry for mercy and help, and will work with them even in the
worst situations to bring forth good.
Chuck Colson is thanking God for the present ministry he has in the
prisons of our nation where many are coming to Christ because God is
merciful and turns wailing into dancing. The worst can be used for the
best, and that is why the thankful heart can always be thankful for the
present, for no matter what it is, it has potential for good. The very
trial you now endure can be laying the foundation for a triumph tomorrow,
and so be thankful for the present. The thankful heart is ever searching
for that diamond that is hidden in life’s dirt.
Matthew Henry, the famous Bible scholar, was once accosted by thieves
and robbed of his money. He wrote these words in his diary. “Let me be
thankful…….
First, because I was never robbed before,
Second, although they took my purse they didn’t take my life,
Third, because, although they took my all, it wasn’t much,
Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”
Could you be thankful for the present if it was as unpleasant as being
robbed? You could if you choose to count as someone has written-
Count your blessings instead of your crosses,
Count your gains instead of your loses,
Count your joys instead of your woes
Count your friends instead of your foes
Count your courage instead of your fears,
Count your health instead of your wealth,
Count on God instead of yourself.
One of the quickest ways there is of quenching the spirit, and thereby
withering the fruit of the spirit in our lives, is by an attitude of
ingratitude which focuses on what we do not have rather than on the
abundance which we do have. The quickest way to cure any negative mood is
by the therapy of Thanksgiving. There is healing power in praise. David
said his sack cloth was removed and he was clothed with joy,
and that is what can happen to anyone who will chance their tune from the
blues to the song of Thanksgiving.
A surprising conclusion that many have come to is that Thanksgiving is
to the Christian what swearing is to the non-Christian. It is a release,
and a therapeutic expression of emotion. The one takes the low road of the
negative, and the other takes the high road of the positive. Pastor Chase,
a Presbyterian minister, was visiting a hospital ward late at night where
two elderly women were in great pain.
Both were terminal patients. One of them was cursing God and swearing at
life. The other was thanking God for the precious memories of that life and
love had given her. She was saying with the Psalmist, “Blest the Lord O my
soul and forget not all His benefits.”
The present was unpleasant for both of these ladies, but one was
building on a broader foundation than the moment. She had a reservoir of
memories she could thank God for, and that made her thankful for the
present, for her now was not empty, but was packed with grateful memories of
the past. The past influences the present, and, therefore, every one of us
has an obligation to our future self to start being grateful for the
present, so we can have a positive past to influence our future.
This makes more sense than it sounds like, for what it means is,
everyday we are laying up a treasure of Thanksgiving that will bring healing
in some future circumstance. If we neglect being thankful for the present,
we will someday go to the medicine chest, and find it empty. If you want to
enjoy the therapeutic power of Thanksgiving do not wait until someday, start now, and thank God for the present.

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