Emma laid in bed listening to her parents’ voices on the other side of the wall. “How are we going to pay this bill, Ben?” Mom asked with a worried tone.

Emma huddled deeper under her blankets. She knew her parents didn’t want her to worry, but her stomach hurt.

Everything was different. First, Dad lost his job, then Mom worked longer hours. Emma packed her own school lunches and helped Dad with chores and simple meals. Dad searched for a new job every day, yet Emma had overheard her parents say that they may need to move. “God, can’t you give my Dad back his job?” Emma prayed as she drifted to sleep.

Mom poked her head into Emma’s room the next morning. “Time to get ready for church, sleepyhead.”

“Why?” Emma asked. “If God can do the things we learn about in church, why doesn’t He give Dad back his job?”

“Get ready,” Mom told her. “We’ll talk some more after breakfast.”

After Emma rinsed her cereal bowl, Mom led Emma outside. “Look at the bird feeder.”

“Mom, we haven’t filled it since Dad lost his job,” Emma objected.

“Are the birds worried about the empty feeder?” Mom asked. Emma looked around. She saw sparrows nibbling in the trees. Others roosted in the gutter, and still more perched on her neighbour’s feeder.

“No,” Emma answered.

“For years, God provided for our family though Dad’s job,” Mom explained. “God is still providing, but in different ways.”

“Like how the birds that used to come to our feeder now go to other places?” Emma asked.

“Yes,” said Mom. “The Bible stories we learn in church remind us how God has helped many people through many hard times in many different ways. Church is also where we can connect with Christians and hear them thank God for what He’s done to help them. Their words remind us that God is with us and cares for us even though our situation may be different from theirs.”

“And thanking God at church for providing for us might help someone else,” said Emma as she headed for the car.

Memory is an important part of our lives. Our past forges our future. We celebrate national holidays so we can remember our moments of triumph and be bonded together by them again. We remember birthdays and anniversaries for the same reason. Psalm 105 is filled with the memory of what God has done.

The psalmist seeks to excite the people’s gratitude by recalling God’s goodness to them in former times. He urges us to always give thanks to God regardless of our circumstances. We are to give thanks for everything He has done in the past, especially in delivering His people from bondage into freedom. We are to rejoice because He is holy. Gratitude looks back on the many tings God has done in our lives and recalls how good and kind He has been to us, especially through trials, challenges and disappointment.

We are called to praise God because He has intervened on behalf of His people. He provided for the Israelites in the desert because He remembered the covenant He made with Abraham. By remembering God’s work in history, we can be encouraged to praise God.

Praise is both a spiritual and a practical experience. It forms deep within our souls and comes forth in song or proclamation and shows itself just as real in delivering a meal to a family in need. How can we make known to others what God has done? How can we tell of His wonderful acts? There are several ways. We could visit someone who lives in a nursing home, read Scripture and pray with them. We can take a meal to someone who can’t come to church and encourage them with the ministry of God’s presence. We can shovel snow from a neighbour’s driveway or mow their grass when they are away on vacation. We can drive someone to a medical appointment and stay with them. We can volunteer in a church ministry. We can use our spiritual gifts up front or behind the scenes. The possibilities are endless.

Cultivating a thankful heart is key to overcoming discouragement, grief, pain or discontentment. The greatest benefit of a grateful heart is not the blessing that it brings to us, but the witness it is to others, especially during life’s trials. When God tells us to have a grateful heart, it is for our best. God has a good plan for us, one to prosper us and keep us walking in His promises. Gratitude is part of that plan.

Joy is a by-product of love. If we concentrate on getting joy, it will elude us. If we concentrate on getting love, then joy will seek us out. We will be automatically joyful. If we get into the habit of putting the right thoughts in our minds-thoughts such as joy, faith, victory and praise-then our minds will be transformed and renewed. We will find ourselves positive, hopeful, strong and courageous. We will see God’s hand of blessing and increase, and we will live the abundant lives He has in store for us.

Psalm 105:1-3 summarizes what we should do each day:

  1. Give thanks.
  2. Pray.
  3. Communicate
  4. Sing.
  5. Testify.

How long are we to do this? Psalm 105:8 tells us to do this “for a thousand generations.” In other words, we are to do this until we die or until Christ returns-whichever comes first. We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors to all nations and a blessing to all nations.

As finite human beings, we can only see the present and the past. The future is scary. We need to hold on to God’s hand and trust Him to calm our fears. At those times God shakes us by the shoulders to get our attention. God has a plan for us, and we want to be in the centre of it.

If we are unsure about God’s commitment to us, all we have to do is look at Jesus. He spent His life winning our salvation and His resurrection proves His work was successfully completed. Jesus often stopped what he was doing to answer the prayers of a cripple, a blind man, a leper, or a possessed person. He responded favorably to the needs of those who were abandoned by the world.

When life changes, do you think about how God has cared for you in the past? Do you spend time with people God has helped? Have you thanked Him for how He is caring for you now? Remember that God can care for you and your family in many different ways. No matter what your situation is, God is always with you. His love never fails.

Bibliography

  1. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible: New Kings James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 775-776)
  2. Heidi J. Schmidt, “A Different Way.” Retrieved from info@keysforkids.org.
  3. Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament. Part of Wordsearch 12 Bible software package.
  4. Williams, D. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 14: Psalms 73-150 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1989; pp. 242-246)
  5. Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010; pp. 805-807)
  6. Charles R. Swindoll, “Hold on To God’s Hand.” Retrieved from www.insightforliving.ca
  7. “Day 13: Gratitude.” Retrieved from Oneplace@crosswalkmail.com
  8. Kenneth L. Samuel, “Somebody Say Something.” Retrieved from dailydevotional@ucc.org
  9. Selwyn Hughes, “Always a Reason to Rejoice.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  10. “Psalm 105:1-3.” Retrieve from www.100words.ca
  11. Joni Eareckson Tada, “Gratitude Strengthens Your Faith.” Retrieved from communications@joniandfriends.org
  12. Pastor Ken Klaus, “Opinions May Vary.” Retrieved from www.lhm.org
  13. Kim Potter, “A Heart of Gratitude.” Retrieved from bre@anewthingministries.com
  14. Joel Osteen, “Meditate on Him.” Retrieved from devotional|@e.joelosteen.com
  15. Ron Moore, “Practical Praise.” Retrieved from http://www.ronmoore.org

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