This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
Everyday we should be celebrating the many blessings from God…for He does things far beyond the bounds of what we think, expect, or can even imagine. Genesis 18:14 goes further to ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But I heard an interesting sermon the other day challenging the idea of just what a blessing was. Do we thank God only for the good things we have, and that happen to us. Or do we praise Him also for all the difficult, uncomfortable, and bad things that come into our lives? How do we know that something meant for bad can’t suddenly be turned around by God for good? For what we see as affliction, can become the way to deeper holiness and sanctification in our life…or what appears to be a difficult situation may turn out to be a godsend in the end. This gives new meaning then to the song “Count your many Blessings”…for we need to praise God for everything that comes into our lives…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Most of us have a very short attention span. So attempting to understand the concept of forever more can be mind-boggling. We can’t stay focused on something for 15 minutes, and this verse tells us to praise the Lord for an indefinite, limitless amount of time! But if we think about forever more in another way…someday we’ll find ourselves in the very Throne Room of God singing in the heavenly choir, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13) …and time won’t matter anymore, for we’ll be in the presence of the Lord.
Having a really bad day? Go outside then, take a deep breath, and look up into the sky. Now celebrate the fact that God’s majesty is on display just for you. Thank Him that He sought you out in your brokenness and worked a miracle in your life. Proclaim to Him again your trust in His son, Jesus Christ. Gaze up into the sky and recognize… that vast expanse above you can not start to contain God’s love for you.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
We tend to thank God when good things happen…when prayers are answered or people are healed. But what about when things aren’t so good? Can we still find gratitude within pain and sorrow? Can we be like Job, who after losing everything near and dear to him, exclaimed,” The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” Expressing gratitude to God within the storm moves our eyes off the chaos around us and focuses it on above.
Maybe it’s hearing someone’s answer to pray…maybe it’s a praise report…or maybe it’s hearing that someone you’ve been praying for has finally come to know the Lord. Whatever it is, joy and thanksgiving almost explodes from us as we listen to others praising and thanking our Heavenly Father. Sharing God’s miraculous works is so important to all of us. For when we share…we all become encouraged and uplifted!