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(This reflection on Psalm 100 was posted a year ago under the title “Thanksgiving.”)
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Yes, rouse yourself and shout for joy even when you feel more like shouting with anguish, in frustration, in anger. For even when your world seems to be falling apart — yes, especially then — remember that God is still on His throne, and He will never fall apart. He’s the one certainty in a universe of inexorable change, the one inextinguishable light in a darkening landscape, the one source of peace in a chaotic world of man-made consequences. So shout for joy, because He is your God, and His power and His strength are fully available to you.
Shout for joy to the Lord, you who think you have the world by the tail, and guard against relying on human beings and favorable circumstances as the source of your worship. Be grateful for His provision, but don’t allow the joy of it to take the place of your joy in Him.
Know — really think about and understand — the absolute lordship of God. He really is in charge; be grateful — not frustrated — that you aren’t. Just imagine the mess you’d be in then! He really did create you, you really do belong to Him, He really does care for and guide you. As you absorb all this, take a good look at where you are right now in your relationship with God. Have you wandered off, looking for a greener pasture of your own choice instead of following His leading? If you have, then run back to Him, so He can once again take you into His arms and hold you close to His heart — a heart that longs for you — and be thankful.
Be exuberant in your gratitude that He has given you the right and privilege of coming into His very presence. When you really comprehend what that means, how could you do anything else? For He is the sum total of all that is loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and disciplined. In the world, pale reflections of His holiness come and go, but He endures at full strength forever. Your faithfulness to Him ebbs and flows, but His faithfulness is constant as far back and as far forward as your mind can reach.
So don’t just murmur your thankfulness over a feast for the senses; sacrifice some real time thinking about who God is, what He has done, who you are in His sight, and who you can yet be in real relationship with Him. Have a spiritual feast until you’re full to bursting with thankfulness. Then shout for joy!