"What if you woke up tomorrow with only the blessings for which you thanked God today?"
This is a paraphrase of a question my mom shared from a Bible study she was preparing for last week.
Consider this question another way: What blessings do I enjoy today that I would be sad to do without tomorrow? What am I thankful for today that I would like to continue to enjoy tomorrow?
After I got off the phone with Mom last week, my mind raced through a list of blessings for which I am VERY grateful: names of particular people, necessities and creature comforts, life experiences and lessons learned. I quickly realized that, were I to try to name all the things for which I am thankful, I would run out of day before I ran out of blessings!
In my current journey through the Bible, I read Psalm 50 this morning. This Psalm begins with a reflection on the beauty and majesty of God. Next, it issues a call for God's covenant people to gather before him. Then, startlingly, it speaks of God's rebuke and judgment - not of unbelievers or of those who reject God, but of God's "faithful ones" (v. 5), those of whom God says, "I am God, your God" (v. 7).
As God confronts his "faithful ones" in this passage, why is He described as "a devouring fire" and a "mighty tempest" (v. 3)? Why is God angry? What is God's charge against his people?
Their great offense against God was: they were not thankful.
God rebukes his people for their ingratitude, and He commands them: "Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me" (vv. 14-15).
Now, I want to protest, to say that God has put the cart before the horse, so to speak: Give thanks...and God will deliver me? Shouldn't that read: If God delivers me, then I will give thanks?
Next, the passage goes on to contrast those who are grateful with those who hate discipline and who speak evil. Ingratitude puts a person squarely in the camp of the wicked, among those who hate God and whom God himself hates.
Again, I want to protest: Is ingratitude really that big of a deal?!! There are so many sins that are so much worse!!!
But I am not God, and God's thoughts are not like mine: "...you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you" (v. 21).
Ouch! My thinking is WRONG. I must correct it, must align my thinking with God's Word. Ingratitude IS a big deal: it is an offense against a holy God, and justly deserves his wrath.
God's Word teaches that thanksgiving precedes deliverance. If I stubbornly refuse to thank God for his goodness and for his goodness to me, even in the face of trials and suffering, then I cannot expect God to deliver me "in the day of trouble."
(This brings to mind Jesus, who, on the night He was betrayed, gave thanks - before his arrest, and the flogging, and the crucifixion. He gave thanks - and He walked obediently into all that suffering - and God delivered him, and through him, God was glorified!)
Psalm 50 ends with a strong warning: "Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly, I will show the salvation of God." (vv. 22-23)
I don't know about you, but I want to order my way rightly.
I want to give thanks, TODAY.
3 months ago