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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 29, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 111

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
    in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
   studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
   and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
   the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him;
   he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works,
   in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
   to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant forever.
   Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
   all those who practice it have a good understanding.
   His praise endures forever. (NRSV)

“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.”

It’s easy to give thanks when life is good and going our way, like when we get a salary increase or a baby is born, but what about the times when we are feeling like the world has turned against us. How do you give thanks when a loved one is ill or the news seems so bleak and you really don’t feel thankful?

Perhaps in those moments—and we all have them—it is even more important to dig deeper and remember that even in our worst moments we have survived and, when we look back on them, realize we might have become stronger and better because of those times. Or maybe we can just be thankful that we are no longer in those terrible times and that’s enough to be grateful for in itself. Life is a trajectory filled with highs and lows.

In this time just past Christmas, of celebrating the incarnation, we know that God is with us, experiencing those same highs and lows; yet God, in Jesus, always had compassion for those around him. He cared for the sick, fed the hungry, spoke truth to the injustices of his time.

Whether we are thankful a lot or not at all, this is what we are all called to do. Help those around us in need or pain. Be kind to someone who needs to hear a word of praise. Give someone a gift; let a stranger cut in line ahead of you; or surprise someone with a little love.

When we act out of thankfulness and gratitude, we change from just feeling thankful to really being thankful. Being thankful is a way of life—in good times and bad—that can change who we are and can change those around us.

Loving God, help me to be thankful. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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