Thanksgiving Through the Psalms
My sister Lin endured eight painful years of infertility before giving birth to her oldest son (who was followed by triplets two years later). I asked her once about her journey, and how she was able to weather such a trial and sustain her unwavering faith.
She told me it was definitely not as easy as it seemed. And she told me about a habit she decided to practice to help her through.
Lin shared that she had resolved to praise God, even when another month brought another reminder that her situation was unchanged. She never wanted to stray away from the truth that God is good and faithful, even when her circumstances seemed to prove otherwise. Every time she realized another month had passed her by, no matter where she found herself, she would always choose to sing the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" in an audible voice.
She shared with me that one such time, the heartbreak came to her while in a public restroom. As she tried to come to terms with her crushing disappointment, she finally mustered up the strength to sing of God’s faithfulness through her pain. Through her tears, with a broken shaky voice, she sang in a painful whisper:
Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
After exiting her stall, she began to wash her hands and realized she’d had an audience. There had been a woman in the stall next to her the whole time! To this day we wonder what that woman must have been thinking about her stall neighbor singing of God’s faithfulness through painful tears in a restroom. I guess we will never know.
It just so happens that this was our mother’s favorite song. Our mother endured many years of debilitating illness. During that time we watched her unwavering faith proclaim the faithfulness and goodness of her Savior, which in turn has helped us journey through our own trials and disappointments.
At my mom’s funeral, we sang the same song with tear-filled eyes and shaking voices, but also with deep conviction as we continued to trust in His goodness and faithfulness as our mother had.
Through such habits of worship, even when circumstances make it difficult, our faith can be strengthened as it was for those who have gone before us. In turn, as we praise, we too can help strengthen the faith of those who come after us.
For the past couple of months we have woven our way through various Psalms and joined those that have gone before us in worship, lament, and hope. We have rejoiced in God’s greatness and have seen the freedom to pour out our sorrows and disappointments to Him.
I’m sure that both my mom and my sister expressed their fair share of lamenting as well. But intentional worship, even during difficult circumstances, can become a soul-renewing habit. It is the place where the Holy Spirit hears and visits our spirit.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I would like for us to take a pause from the weekly rhythm we’ve been following and focus this week on a Psalm of praise every morning.
Perhaps you will feel like all is good with the world and the words will flow with ease, or perhaps you have woken up to your own disappointments. I want to challenge you, as I will myself, to decide every morning this week to trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness, no matter what. Even if your words come out shaky and soaked in tears, allow the Spirit to strengthen your aching heart through the power of thanksgiving and worship.