I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
Today is designed to stop our regular and often-busy lives for a moment. It’s designed to bring to your recollection things to be grateful for. I wonder if we really take part in these exercises in a deep sense, or when prompted at a table full of food waiting for us to devour it, we pit-stop momentarily to roll off what quickly comes to mind.
I think we can admit that what comes out of most of our mouths are usually more generic answers like, family & heath, maybe toys, if you’re a young child. It doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful, we just probably don’t want it to get weird.
“I’m grateful for the trees that cover me when I walk in the park, and the happy barking of dogs playing, and the smell of coffee wafting out from the bodega on the corner near my apartment, and mittens, because they’re so cute, and the fun little ball on top of a winter hat, and… Wait! I’m not done yet..”
Yes, yes you are.
Whatever we are grateful for, it should be an opportunity think deeply about it today. Even if it’s just between you and well… you. Think about what it really means that whatever the thing is, somehow brings you some kind of joy and happiness.
Then I dig into Scripture and what it means to be thankful, and I read passages like the one above found in psalm 86, and I can help but scoff at that first line.
“With my whole heart”
I can’t imagine my whole heart doing anything in the fullest extent of those words. It’s kind of like those generic answers I talked about. I absolutely give God thanks. I’ll say the words and even mean them, but I probably don’t dwell on it enough to really think deeply why I should be thankful with with my whole heart.
But in God’s constant kindness towards us, knowing we probably, more often than not, half-heartedly say “my whole heart” to him, he reminds us why we should.
His steadfast love.
There’s lots of pictures throughout Scripture of his steadfast love for his people.
The redemption of Adam & Eve.
The deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
Triumph over numerous battles.
Healings and new life in dead bodies.
In all of that, the greatest example of the steadfast love of God, was the willingness of his Son to put off much of his Godness to become a child, and then a man, and then walk the same walk as us. To live among us and with us, to see the struggles and pain and hurt that sin causes. He could have seen this from on high, but to come down and walk with us in it, was wonderfully unprecedented and it makes us love God more.
He came and spent time with us, and allowed the supernatural to break through in many miracles and wonders, so we could know something greater will be with us, not just later, but in the here and now, even as we walk with him.
The steadfast love of God is Jesus walking himself to death, taking that power that death once had over us, from the enemy of our souls. His steadfast love would not be deterred by his own death, as life burst forth from the tomb and declared emphatically to the world with a shout, sin and death have no more power over you.
That steadfast work of Christ has paid for me, and even my not-so-whole heart thankfulness. It’s wholly and fully covered, and I am grateful.
His steadfastness delivers my soul from the depths of Sheol. But, if I’m honest, this is a constant rescue. A regular deliverance of my mind. In my struggles, my soul daily sinks below the surface and rests in darkness when I am reminded of my not-whatsoever-good past, and even when I am reminded of a present that doesn’t always live up to the gratefulness God deserves, but slinks back into the habits I thought were once gone.
Like a circle, My soul dips low in those times and then remembers God’s goodness to me in his steadfast love, which was best realized at the cross and in the empty tomb.
And I know that I am loved and forgiven.
And I am grateful… yes, with an imperfect heart, but grateful.
I pray you can think deeply about what your grateful about today.
And be thankful to God with your imperfect heart.
Have a grateful and Happy Thanksgiving!