Joel Gregory tells a funny story about a family seated around their table one Thanksgiving Day looking at the annual holiday bird.
From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good.
After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate joining together a hidden multitude of benefactors, linking them with cause and effect.
“I thank the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey,” he prayed, “I thank the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank the farmer who made it fat. I thank the man who made the feed. I thank those who brought the turkey to the store.”
Then at the end, he solemnly asked, “Did I leave anybody out?”
His older brother, embarrassed by all the proceedings, said, “God.”
Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, “I was about to get to Him.”
Today’s Bible reading, Psalm 107, repeatedly reminds us not to forget God. Five times he urges, “give thanks unto the Lord. Four times he uses this same phrase:
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (vs. 8, 15, 21, 31)
We live in a secular society that not only fails to acknowledge God for the source of their blessings, but many outright deny His existence. In their hubris, the atheist, agnostic and unbeliever take all the credit for their success. Through their own skill, ingenuity, and brilliance they believe their prosperity is the result of their dogged determination.
Of course, this does not surprise us that unbelievers refuse to acknowledge God’s goodness, but if we are not careful we can forget who we are. Where we came from. And why we’re here.
By now the glow of the holiday season has faded. Thanksgiving Day is almost a distant memory. Christmas is over. The new year has begun. We’re back to work. And in many cases the resolutions we made 15 days ago are already slipping.
Today’s reading reminds us not only of God’s goodness but His deliverance of His people. Israel’s history, from the wilderness wanderings to the period of the Judges and finally to their restoration from Babylonian captivity, is one in which they constantly find themselves in trouble and need God’s help.
Four times the Psalmist says “they cried out to the Lord in their trouble” (vs. 6, 13, 19,28).
And what was God’s response? Four times he reminds them “(God) delivered them out of their distresses.”
While we may thank God for His goodness in terms of material blessings, physical health, financial prosperity, and personal well being, let’s not forget about all the times God has delivered us from the hand of the enemy.
There have been times of sickness, suffering, and death, we have experienced the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:7). He has healed our hurts. Both physically and emotionally. And even on occasions when we’re still in the process of healing, or even still hurting, He gives the strength to continue on. Like Paul, we learn that His “grace is sufficient” for us (2 Cor. 12:9).
Most of all, let us not take for granted that God the great Deliverer is the Wonderful Redeemer.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14).
We may experience difficulty, hardship and the consequence of sin, either ours or others, in this life, but we can sincerely say that “God is good” because He delivered us from the guilt and condemnation of sin.
We can shout and sing with the hymnist Fanny Crosby:
Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.
Today make the Psalmist’s proclamation your personal pronouncement of praise:
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman