Thanks for God’s forgiveness, healing, rescue and faithful love

Posted Dec 1, 2017

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Daily Scripture

Psalm 103:1-5

1 Let my whole being bless the Lord!
    Let everything inside me bless his holy name!
2 Let my whole being bless the Lord
    and never forget all his good deeds:
3     how God forgives all your sins,
    heals all your sickness,
4     saves your life from the pit,
    crowns you with faithful love and compassion,
5     and satisfies you with plenty of good things
        so that your youth is made fresh like an eagle’s.

Reflection Questions

Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance.*

Sometimes even without a conscious intention (perhaps influenced by what we hear others saying), we adopt a "linguistic style” full of words like earned, deserved, produced, accomplished and achieved. There is nothing wrong with being conscientious workers, of course. But when the psalmist said, “Let my whole being bless the Lord,” it was not because of a belief that God should be grateful for what he had done, but because of gratitude for what God had done for him.

  • Verses 3-4 strongly suggest that the psalmist had been through a hard time, perhaps a severe illness from which he could not deliver himself. What reasons for gratitude and praise has God helped you find in the wake of your painful experiences? How can you grieve life’s tragedies, personal or communal, and yet stay open to God’s healing Spirit and God’s pledge of a future free of terrible tragedies?
  • 1 John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” How does the first phrase of verse 3 in this psalm show that the psalmist felt no need for denial or deception about sin? How do God’s grace and compassion create a space in which moral honesty, with ourselves, others and God, is cleansing, rather than scary? In what area(s) are you particularly grateful for God’s forgiveness?

Prayer

O God, grow my comfort and enjoyment of language that recognizes you, and not my own merits, as the ultimate source of so much of the good in my life. Thank you for your many gifts to me. Amen.

* Each day this week we’re sharing one tip from Robert Emmons, “Ten Ways to Become More Grateful.” November 17, 2010 from Greater Good Magazine. Click here for entire article.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

Our family has enjoyed filling out our Gratitude Journals the past few weeks & I thought it might be interesting to compare ours with King David’s list captured in his thoughts in the 103rd Psalm.

King David opens with thanking God for forgiving all of our sins.  Presuming that David is writing this in his later years, perhaps we should be encouraged by his confidence that our God is indeed a God who completely & totally forgives the repentant sinner.

Aside: Ouch.  David’s list already makes mine seem a bit lame.  (Admittedly, my enthusiasm for beagles could be considered a tad over-the-top.) It’s like a flashback to when I was in 3rd Grade Sunday School & our teacher, Mr. Reynolds, asked as an icebreaker question, “What would you like for Christmas?”  I excitedly/rapidly answered, “A GI-Joe action figure with the Kung Fu grip.”  My classmate (& long-time churchly nemesis), Tami, was next & responded, “Peace in Jesus’ hometown.”  Sigh.

David then thanks God for healing all of our diseases.  This is puzzling since we know that God doesn’t magically heal our broken bodies.  While we understand that disease is often used as a metaphor for sinfulness, perhaps David is also thanking God for our body’s amazing ability to heal & mend.  Our younger son, Jacob, diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes this past June listed Drs. Minkowski & von Mering in his gratitude journal for discovering insulin in 1889 - giving him the gift of a healthier life 128 years later.

King David is also grateful for God redeeming his life from the pit.  The pit, in David’s time, could refer to Sheol – the world of the dead.  With Christ’s selfless sacrifice on the cross, we know that our savior will redeem our life & we have nothing to fear as we walk through the valley.

Aside: Yipes – that’s another strong entry from David.  If we asked the boys what they were grateful for before eating dinner, we found their responses focused on that evening’s menu – meat loaf, spaghetti, or beef stroganoff.  In our defense, perhaps it is okay to be appreciative of food & to not take it for granted.  When the boys were little guys they’d say grace & conclude by clapping their hands & shouting, “Yea God!”  Maybe, this view of mealtime could even increase our appreciation for that Swanson TV Dinner of Chopped Sirloin Beef (with tater tots!).

David is grateful for a God who crowns us with love & compassion.  Being a king, David knows what he is talking about.  But instead of boasting crowns of jewels & gold, David is delighted to share in God’s crown of love & mercy.  Perhaps we need a reminder that there is no greater honorific/earthly title than to have God say, “Well done, good & faithful servant” – though Matthew’s appreciation for being Co-Vice President of CORis is also worthy of note.

Finally, David’s journal concludes with gratitude to God for satisfying our desires with good things.  As we think of good things, maybe we need to go old school.  Doris’ gratitude for the sunshine definitely makes sense as we endure Daylight Savings Time.  (“Up before the sun” used to be something to brag about; now, not so much.)  Maybe we should focus on the many pleasant things of our daily existence: laughter, multi-colored leaves, noisy children playing, a phenomenal hymn in worship, a good mystery novel, or even that gift for a loved one that you “just can’t wait” to give.

You know, in retrospect, David’s list was definitely awesome.  But what ours might have lacked in quality, perhaps the quantity in our Gratitude Journal might tighten the gap.  To paraphrase Police Chief Brody from the 1975 movie, Jaws, “Looks like we’re gonna’ need a bigger book.”

Editor: The actual quote is “Looks like we’re gonna’ need a bigger boat.”   Scheider, Roy, perf. Jaws.  Universal Pictures, 1975. Film.

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