May I ask a personal question? What were you thinking about right before you clicked to read this?
Was it the ever-growing list of things that must get done today? How about the endless run of inspirational quotes showing up in your newsfeed that you can’t seem to stop scrolling through? Or maybe your thoughts hovered over a bigger problem, something that’s causing you to lose precious sleep?
I’d like to say I was thinking about something really profound and maybe even amazing, but I wasn’t. I was thinking about a nagging, aching pain.
Not the heart-hurt kind of pain. I know we all have that sometimes too, but I was thinking about physical pain.
My body is currently in recovery-mode after some recent treatments. I’m regaining my strength, but certain things still hurt. And I’ve discovered that physical pain can take control of my thoughts, if I let it.
I know the power of thanking God continually when my thoughts wander to my circumstances. He is worthy of my thanks. But honestly, there are times when showing gratitude is harder than others, like when I’m hurting and ibuprofen isn’t going to help.
When pain or other hard things threaten to hold our thoughts hostage, Psalm 107 offers a life-giving antidote unlike anything this world can offer. In this chapter, the psalmist shows us 4 circumstances when it’s important for us to thank God. (Click this link to read Psalm 107.)
In the Wilderness
The psalmist tells four stories about God working a miracle for His people. The first one begins with a reference to the children of Israel, wanderers without a place to settle (Psalm 107:4). In the midst of desperation, God responded to their cries for help. He guided them to a place where they would find everything they needed. When we face an uncertain future and don’t see a way out, God will answer. We serve a God who “smooths out the path ahead” of us (Isaiah 26:7).
In Bondage of Sin
Being held captive is quite different than wandering in unknown territory. But regardless of our circumstances, God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). God’s people called to Him, and He delivered the prisoners from captivity (Psalm 107:13).
Suffering in Sickness
Even when sickness affects our bodies and makes us feel like there’s no end to the suffering, God is with us to offer healing and comfort. When His people cried out, He healed those with afflictions (Psalm 107:20). The strongest chains and deepest wounds are no match for God’s great love.
In the Storm
Maybe your battle isn’t in the desert, in chains, or with sickness today. Maybe a storm rages around you, and you’ve been knocked down by wave after wave of bad news. You may not feel thankful right now, but we can’t let the storm of today cloud our memories of His mercy. In the fourth description, God “stilled the storm” and brought calm when things grew out of control.
Each painful situation described in this Psalm ends with a call for us to thank the Lord for His wonderful deeds and unfailing love. God is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23), and thanking Him for all He has done brings hope in the most difficult times of life.
His love never fails, and His deeds are wonderful.