“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” – Psalm 136
This Thanksgiving, many throughout the county, state and nation aren’t celebrating the day as they normally would be.
This has been a hard year. Through pandemic and subsequent shutdowns, it seems that everyone has had a friend or family member who’s been affected either through the virus itself or the job loss that comes with an extended shutdown.
Pandemic, politics, joblessness and the loneliness that comes from isolation. So many things to be angry about. So many things to keep in our minds that take up time. In a year filled with so much anger and division and heartache, it can be difficult to take a step back and get perspective on where you are and where you’ve been. People who walk with heads facing their phones can miss the forest for the trees when they’re constantly busy keeping up to date in a world that seems to be turning faster every minute. We don’t realize the blessings God has left for us to appreciate along the way.
We need liturgy. We need repetition. We need constant reminders to keep our eyes on Christ.
We need Psalm 136 to recite alone and in congregation, a reminder to stop and “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 136 is a wonderful psalm to memorize because it reminds us of God’s deeds in days past. And with a constant refrain of God’s steadfast love, it teaches us that same love God had for Israel he has for us today, tomorrow and forever.
It’s good to embed the theme of giving thanks to the Lord in our hearts. Stop to consider who God is, what he has done, and how he loves us.
When I’m busy and weary of work and school, and often with the world in general, it’s difficult to stop and think. Much more to stop and give thanks.
Busyness is the way of the world. And busyness often breeds thoughtlessness. In a sense I guess that too is the way of the world: everyone busy with work or play or some new habit: no time to stop and consider deeper things like life and love and the nature of being – where we are and where we came from, and where it is that we’re going.
That’s why prayers of thanksgiving must become more than habit, more than a once a year event where we recite things we’re thankful for over turkey and green beans and all the other meats and veggies and candies.
If we’re too busy to stop and give thanks often, it can become too easy to give in to that root of bitterness that sets in like gangrene on the soul.
That’s why I think the refrain, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” is repeated so often in this Psalm in particular, the book of Psalms in general, and is sewn throughout the rest of Scripture. Like a thread that holds all the promises together, this phrase reminds us of God’s love, ultimately culminating in the steadfast love found in Christ’s love for us.
At Commerce Community Church, we follow a prayer guideline for each service, called A.C.T.S. Throughout each service, one member prays a prayer of Adoration, another of Confession, another of Thanksgiving, and another of Supplication. The thinking is that each week we all need to adore God, confess sins to him, give thanks to him, and ask him to sustain us and others in the Monday through Sunday ahead.
Praying and hearing the prayer of thanksgiving weekly at C3 reminds me to give thanks. I try to give prayers of thanks more than on Sunday mornings. Each Sunday I’m given a model of prayer, listening and praying with other members who use their unique voices to adore, confess, thank, and ask God to sustain our lives.
But it’s more than a personal one. It’s also a reminder that other people in my congregation regularly pray with and for this body of believers. On Monday mornings I can be thankful to be part of a congregation that knows who I am and prays to God on my behalf.
Hearing these prayers each week teaches me in ways I both comprehend and don’t yet understand about the Lord’s steadfast love. One thing I do know, it teaches me that I’m not alone in this walk. I have a congregation that stops and gives thanks to the Lord for all he’s done and who he is.
Try to carve out time each day to consider ways to give God thanks. See if you notice things to thank God for that you otherwise wouldn’t have if you had been too busy to slow down and pray.
Joseph Hamrick is a semi-professional writer and sometimes thinker. He lives in Commerce and serves as a deacon at Commerce Community Church (C3)
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org