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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
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
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