For Thanksgiving Day I wanted to post a devotional reflection. Psalm 107 is an amazing song of grace. God shows us his unfailing love in our most desperate circumstance. And, since we are fallen some of these we might even have caused ourselves. Here is how God meets you in the hurt, whether self-inflicted or otherwise.
Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.
In this portion of Psalm 107 we see the category of the sinful fool who suffers because of his choices. In the entire Psalm, the “distress” cry from people are heard as they bring them to God in their most desperate hour. God’s unfailing love appears in the knick of time. The psalmist then explains that worship and joyful thanksgiving occur. It is a picture of a reality that is counter-intuitive as we try to wrangle the situations of life–even the ones we create with our own sin.
I am honest to say I hate myself, at times. I am the rebellious fool in the psalm. You may be, too. The affliction suffered is not only mine to bear but those closest to me. When we sin this is what it does. We wallow in the self-inflicted pain accepting the shame as punishment. The collateral damage done by our deeds simply adds to remind us of our state because it hurt our relationship with others. A cycle is born of self-loathing shame, reminders of the trigger of our pain caused to others, and then a deep crying out. When our cries are simply selfish complaints to the air and to those in earshot the cycle escalates. But, when we cry out to God it breaks the cycle.
The psalmist sings, “He sent out his word and healed them…” Why is it that I would rather be in a cycle of shame than bring my life in full view of my Maker? Simple. I do not trust in the unfailing love that God brings. My mind and experience is that I am cast out and forgotten. I deserve the separation from the God I love and the ones I love. And, this is especially true–in my wrong thinking–because I have hurt them by my rebellious thoughts and actions. My choices to put myself above them, in my faulted opinion, disqualifies me from relationship. God is telling me I am wrong. He says to me, “Cry out to me, Rich.“
This is what unfailing love looks like: When I learn to cry out to God in the pain of my own mistakes, I am heard. Then I am healed. I love this whole Psalm 107 as it addresses any distresses we have with the antidote of thanksgiving. The song calls us to cry out to God. In the moment of our fears that are greater than death, God shows up.
As I am gasping for air attempting to control life from heading to places far beyond my mastery of them, God is waiting for me to remember his unfailing love. His love endures. It takes a storm at times to remove my hands from the helm of my ship. Sometimes the storm happens. Sometimes I create the mess. The more I ponder the love of God, the more I can breath. The more I can love. The more I can know I am loved. I then can be thankful which changes everything. Ponder his unfailing love. And, Happy Thanksgiving!