January 18, 2017
“Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!” is a statement from Psalm 126:3 in The New Living Translation. The context is the return of Israel’s captive people to Jerusalem. They were singing, filled with laughter and realizing that the surrounding nations understood this was a work of God.
As they focused on the amazing things God had done for them, they thought of their fortunes being restored and the future harvests they could enjoy. Hard work, even to the point of tears, would cause rejoicing at harvest time. Today they might sing, “God is so good, He’s so good to me.”
It is easier to be joyful and grateful when life is going well by our definition. When difficult challenges come to us, we may not be as quick to think about the amazing goodness of God. What tends to happen is that we think more about what He does than about Who He is. God is always good – even when life feels bad.
Parents understand this better than anyone, because we realize that what feels bad to our children is ultimately for their good. The consequence of bad behavior has an immediate uncomfortable feeling, but down the road a few years, the kids are grateful that we cared enough to be consistently firm with them. At the time, they were thinking of what they considered good or bad, but eventually they focus on the people who cared.
Israel’s captive people experienced years of pain because of their refusal to heed the warnings of the God Who loved them. As they returned from those years in captivity and rejoiced in what they had in their homeland, I wonder if they really learned the most important lesson – that God is amazing because He is God, not just for the amazing things He does.
I am reminded of how quick I am to be grateful for the wonderful gifts I enjoy while failing to focus first of all on the One Who is amazing. When that attitude is in place, I will find myself joyful during the hard times – maybe even more so than when life is easier. I need to ponder this throughout each day.
Pastor Bill Ehmann