We find ourselves on the precipice of the 2021 holiday season. Local coffee shops are rolling out their peppermint infused holiday drinks, Christmas music floats through the air in stores, and my Christmas tree is glowing behind me as I write. And while this holiday season appears to be starting in a much better place than last year, the fear and trauma brought on by the rapid and constant life change of the past almost two years now lap at the shores of my mind.
But even as the trauma, worries, and fears threaten to crash ashore, I am reminded of the words of the psalmist, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” -Psalm 136:1
This was true two years ago, and it is true now. God is good and his love is enduring. Always. And this should drive us to rejoice and be thankful. In Philippians 4:4 Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul reiterates, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our joy, our hope, and our thankfulness are not circumstantial.
If anyone knew what it meant to rejoice always and be thankful in the midst of any circumstance, the Apostle Paul did. Prison, beatings, shipwreck, trials before government leaders, angry mobs, hunger, house arrest, physical ailments. The list of what Paul endured for the sake of sharing the Good News of Jesus is quite lengthy. Succumbing to despair would have been the natural response. However, Paul reminds us that our joy, our hope, our thankfulness should transcend our temporal circumstances.
Which brings us back to Psalm 136. For so many reasons God is good, and his unfathomable love is everlasting. And we have experienced this firsthand through Jesus. God’s love demonstrated through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is always worth celebrating whether we are in the midst of the awesome, the terrible, or the mundane.
This week take some time to read Psalm 136 in its entirety, and then discuss it with friends or family. Here are some questions to ponder and discuss:
- Which part of this psalm grabs your attention? Why?
- How have you experienced God’s faithful love this year?
- For what do you want to give thanks to God?
- What practices have you found helpful in cultivating a lifestyle of rejoicing in the midst of all circumstances?
As we move through this week of thanksgiving, feasting, and celebrating may the words of the psalmist be the refrain of our hearts, “Give thanks to the LORD for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”