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THANK GOD FOR THE PAST.

David looks back and recognizes that had God not loved him, led him,

and lifted him, he would have been long gone, and a part of the population

of the pit. The only reason any of us are sitting here, and not lying in a

cemetery is because of the grace and providence of God. There have been

millions of people just our age who have gone into the grave because of war,

accidents, or disease, but we are alive, and not because we are more worthy,

but because we have been spared.

David knew he was alive for that same reason, and he says in verse 3,

“O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down

into the pit.” Life has its burdens and sorrows, and sometimes we even get

depressed enough to want to chuck the whole thing. David knew these dark

depths as well, but most of the time we feel like David does here, and like

the modern poet who wrote,

Thank God I’m alive!

That the skies are blue,

That a new day dawns

For me and you.

The sun light glistens

On field and on tree,

And the house wren sings

To his mate and to me.

The whole world glows

With a heavenly glee!

I know there are heart–aches,

A world full of strife,

But thank God, O thank God,

Thank God just for life.

We could not say that or feel that unless we could look back to the past and

see how God has spared us and protected us to this point.

David saw many a good man go down in battle. Israel was a winner, but

even the winners lose men, and often a great many men. Some of you have no

doubt survived wars. Some of us could have been killed in the wars of our

nation, as many thousands were. We were spared, and we got the chance to

live, to marry, to raise children, and to have grandchildren. We have been

granted the gift to be a part of history, and not because we are more

worthy, but because of the grace of God.

It is good for us to reflect on this, for it can help us to develop a

more thankful perspective. So often we forget the enormous privilege it is

just to be alive, that we become resentful and even bitter because we are

only among the riches people of the world, and not literally the richest

people around. The curse of comparative thinking takes its toll on all of

us at come point in life. We compare ourselves to others who have been more

materially blest, and who have acquired more things, and we envy them, and

this envy quenches the spirit of thankfulness.

Many of the most blest people alive are not happy to be alive because

they are caught in this curse of comparison. There is no level of life you

can arrive at where you can escape this curse. Millionaires compare

themselves with multi-millionaires, and they grieve. The multi-millionaires

compare themselves with billionaires, and they grieve, for they have been

deprived of the highest place. Art Linkletter actually has a friend who has

eight million dollars, but he is always depressed because all of his friends

have at least 10 million dollars.

The only cure for this curse is to change your perspective and look at

life like David is doing in this Psalm. He is not comparing himself to the

Pharaoh of Egypt, or to the kings of the world. He is comparing himself to

those in the grave, and he likes his place better. If you have to compare,

don’t look up, for by this foolish logic everybody is nobody except the man

at the very top. The only one who can win the comparison game is the one

that has nobody he can look up to because he is on top of everyone else. In

other words, only one can win this game, for anyone else is below him and

thus, by comparison are failures.

But if you look the other way, and compare yourself to those who are in

the grave, you are the very essence of success and superiority. How do you

measure the degree of value between you and those not alive? Are you fifty

percent, seventy five percent, or one hundred percent better off? Keep in

mind, we are not talking about eternal life, but temporal life. The dead in

Christ are with him, and are blest beyond our knowledge, but they have zero

potential to enjoy the gifts of God in this earthly life. Compared to them

we are infinitely blest. Therefore, let us look back, and thank God for the

past and for all the ways by which He preserved us so we could be alive this

day.

In our pride we often think we are who we are because of our labor and

wisdom. There is some truth to this, but if it hinders our sense of

thankfulness to God, we need to see life from a new perspective. Did you

choose to not be raised by the Mafia, and learn to live by crime? Did you

choose not to be born in Ethiopia, and be starving? Did you choose not to

live in Mexico City and be killed by a earthquake? Did you choose not to be

a farmer in Columbia and be killed by a volcano? The list could go on for

hours of all the evils you have escaped, not by your own choice and wisdom,

but by the grace of God.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “A proud man is seldom a grateful man for he

never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” David is a grateful man for

he knows he has received so much more than he deserves. Let us join in the

spirit of David, and thank God for all His deliverance’s of the past that

bring us to the present, alive and full of potential. Thank God for the

past.

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