How to Sing in Sorrows (Psalm 30:4-5)
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. —Psalm 30:4-5
“Sing praises to the LORD,” writes David, “and give thanks to his holy name.” To give God thanks is to express gratitude toward God. Godly gratitude is the concerted, integrated response of the intellect, will, and emotions to the gift of God’s undeserved grace to us in Jesus Christ. Gratitude is joy directed toward Jesus!
With gratitude, the receiver always depends on the giver. Gratitude always goes beyond ourselves. If I can procure something for myself, it is not a gift and therefore does not initiate gratitude. Gratitude rises as a response to a gift. Gratitude is grounded in grace!
Genuine gratitude is a joyous response to God for all He is and all He’s done for us. Gratitude is the joy-filled response of the whole heart to God as the loving Giver of sovereign, saving grace. How can we cultivate genuine gratitude in our lives given our current circumstances?
Given grief, disappointment, anxiety, fear and uncertainty; given shortcomings, sins, weakness, smallness, and discouragement; given an accelerated national, cultural, moral decline; given the issues of aging parents and our own aging; given winter ice and snow, wayward children, and failing marriages—given all that is wrong in the world and wrong in the church and wrong in ourselves—how can we cultivate genuine gratitude? How can we be truly thankful to God when we are surrounded by and infected with so much that seems to omit Him? A few quick suggestions:
Be on the lookout
Gratitude loves surprises. Learn to recognize fresh surprises in God’s everyday, ordinary handiwork. Train your heart to take nothing for granted. Everything around you is a gift and the fact that you are here to engage and enjoy it is a grace. Gratitude is grounded in grace.
Build a solid relationship with God
He is the Rock on which all of this rests. And there are things you can do daily to grow your fellowship with and dependance on Him.
Deepen your relationship with God. Get back to the Word. Find God’s will for your life in His Word. Find God’s plan for your soul. God’s Word ruthlessly confronts and conquers the lies that discourage and enslave us and sets us free in Christ.
Consider grace. Stop what you’re doing and ponder what God has done. God the Son came in human form. He lived, suffered, died, was buried, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. You are the beneficiary of all He is and did and does, through no merit of your own but entirely on the basis of His love for you. Let His love and mercy break your heart and mend your soul.
Talk with God. He is the grace-giver. Tell Him in prayerful thanksgiving what you think about all the grace He has given you.
Count your blessings. David writes, “His anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Psalm 139:17 says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” So numberless are God’s good thoughts toward you that eternity won’t be enough to count them all, so you might as well get started. Even the things that you take for granted will blow your mind.
Speak your praise. Paul said:
…be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
Speak to God who fills the heavens, the gratitude that fills your hearts. In the midst of life’s troubles, sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to His holy name.
Make a list of the good things you take for granted: breath, food, sleep, work, play, reading, singing, running–all of the gifts from God that escape your regular notice.
Pray through your list, thanking God for His generosity.
Ask Him to give you eyes to see all that He has done and is doing and to overflow your heart with praise to Him.
Dale McIntire (D.Min, Bethel Theological Seminary) has pastored Cornerstone Community Church for 28 years and is the author of Catching the Wind: A Guide for Interpreting Ecclesiastes. He is married to the originator of the Fighter Verses concept, Linda Fregeau McIntire. They share a like zeal for infusing the next generation with love for God’s Word.