November 24, 2010: Thanksgiving Eve

GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT THAT COMES DOWN FROM ABOVE!
TEXT: Psalm 103: vs. 1-5: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Fellow Redeemed Thankful Christians:

Just as I was typing the words of this text, I got a phone call from Matt Brekken. He had wonderful news! On Monday afternoon his second daughter was born to he and Leah. Her name is Katelyn Rose and she is healthy, safe, and deeply loved. I concluded our call by telling him: “You truly have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!” He replied: “We sure do!” After the heartbreak of losing an infant son less than 2 years ago, God has once more filled these wonderful Christian parents with pure joy, the joy that only a newborn can bring!

Oh, how the words of our psalm apply: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name…and forget not all his benefits.”

By way of contrast, for the past 8 years this psalm has always brought to mind Emma Olson, our dear sainted sister in Christ. Emma was almost 92 years old when Jesus took her into glory. She died the most blessed of deaths—sitting on her couch, eating popcorn and watching “60 Minutes.” No sound, no pain, no anxiety came from her. She simply fell asleep in the Lord’s arms. The reason I associate this Psalm with her is that on one our final visits together I shared these words with her. Afterward she told me: “Pastor, that’s my favorite Psalm.” Think about that. “He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” If a 91 year old can take those words to heart, so can all of you!

A special day of thanks, Thanksgiving, isn’t for just the young, or the old, or the middle aged. It’s for everyone. Likewise, it isn’t just about thanking God for the outward blessings of life: food, clothing, house, job, possessions and health; it’s also about thanking God for giving us the right attitude, for guiding our hearts into the right place, and for appreciating His spiritual blessings which can never be taken from us. That’s why King David, the author of our psalm says: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” That word “benefits” includes both the physical and the spiritual. It includes everything needed to keep our bodies going and everything it takes to keep our souls saved. Thus, it includes Jesus Christ, His cross, His forgiveness, His empty tomb, and His promise of future glory. Obviously David had those benefits in mind when he penned: “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit (of death) and crowns me with love and compassion.”

You and I are well aware of such benefits. We focus on them every single week here at church. And we rightly ascribe all those “good things” to God’s grace. But, there is a hidden aspect of all God’s benefits. That is, when troubles come into our lives, when health concerns hit us, when loved ones suffer, we often fail to see and appreciate God’s hands and wisdom behind it all. We fail to see this truth that St. Paul so aptly describes: “We know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope, and hope does not disappoint.” We thus fail to give thanks during such trials for the upbuilding of our faith which we know will always result.

Little Katelyn Hope Brekken doesn’t know about any of this yet. But Emma Olson did. So did King David who wrote this praise-filled Psalm. So, this Thanksgiving 2010, as you sit down to eat a festive meal, say your family prayers, and generally have a great time, keep these words in the back of your mind: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” And then, then, you will soar above the mundane of life into the sublime. Amen