1 Sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Sing to the Lord! Bless his name!
Share the news of his saving work every single day!
Worship is not limited to one hour (or even one day) each week. Psalm 96 anticipated much modern psychological research as it invited us to express gratitude for God’s saving work “every single day.” The apostle Paul similarly urged Colossian Christians to “overflow with thanksgiving” and “be thankful people” (cf. Colossians 2:7, 3:12-17). Each day and hour of our week can be a time of gratitude, an ongoing act of worship.
Notice. It can be easy to let the minutes and hours pass without taking time to stop and give thanks. Be intentional about noticing all the things, big and small, that you have to be grateful for. Set the timer on your phone to go off every hour. Stop in that moment and focus on something at that very moment that you are grateful for. Write them down in your journal.
Lord of my life, continue touching and transforming me to make my everyday, ordinary life an offering of gratitude to you, an ongoing act of worship. Amen.
* J. Clinton McCann, study note on Psalm 96:2 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 946-947 OT.
In the documentary entitled Happy the filmmakers travel to the happiest places in the world to learn their secrets to happiness. One of the places they visit is the Himalayan country of Bhutan. A journalist for the BBC reports, “in Bhutanese culture, one is expected to think about death five times a day.”*
Does one secret to happiness lie in thinking about death?
When I talk with people who are facing terminal illness, they often express deep gratitude for things I take for granted. They notice details about life that I am not paying attention to. But the truth is we are all facing a terminal diagnosis-–we are human. We will all die. For me, embracing my death reminds me to be grateful.
I follow a social media feed that is dedicated to reminding me that I will die. The author sees his purpose as reminding people that life is finite. He believes we need to be reminded of that often. I questioned myself in adding his material into my newsfeed because it seemed morbid at first. But his posts interrupt my scroll through media in a positive way. When I see his messages such as, “You’re going to die. Write a poem. Sing a Song. Tell a story. Draw a picture. Or don’t. And then die anyway,” I am reminded to stop wasting time scrolling and get back to creating something.
In reconciling my life with my death, I often think these things: if this is my last day, am I doing it well? Is this how I want my kids to remember me? Am I doing things that matter? If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, would I have more courage to do this today? Have I said the things I need to say to the people I love? Am I living in full connection to God? Did I serve the way I was called to serve? Did I love well today?
Thinking about my death every day has increased my level of gratitude for life. This practice is not intended to be depressing. For me, it is a helpful reminder to live bigger and to live in less fear. Maybe that is why the psalmists turn from despair to praise in 49 of the 50 "lament" psalms. In our most fearful moments, being in gratitude for God’s presence is where we find peace. The psalmists teach us to cry out to God in suffering, but also to arc towards gratitude as we endure our circumstances. Day by day, we can all find gratitude for the life we have been given and the opportunity we get to be instruments of God’s love to the world. And in that gratitude, we find God.
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