“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm.” (Luke 1:46-51)
Why would you give thanks? King David considered giving thanks because he was now ‘settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies’ (2Sam 7). Mary gave thanks because he saw in the events around her and Elizabeth that God’s ‘mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation’. On this last day of the year, it is a good think to look back and count your blessings, and find reason to give thanks to the Lord. Attitude matters: there are plenty of reasons to complain – you can find a thousand reasons to complain about your job, your family or neighbours, the government, or even to complain about God; but this comes down to attitude, and complaining only makes you sick. Gratitude instead breathes new health into your life, and there are plenty of reasons – real reasons to give thanks.
As you reflect on your own life, the examples of Mary and David are intriguing. Mary’s encounter with the angel was a great one, and in itself had wonderful promises and privileges – of mothering the Messiah! But when you think about it some more, Mary’s relationship with Joseph was in great danger, and her reputation in society was not only going to go down, but she actually risked being stoned to death for infidelity! I wonder how long it took between Joseph’s discovering Mary was pregnant and the time an Angel counseled him to go ahead with the relationship – whether it took days or weeks or even months, it must have been deeply troubling on both sides. All this was reality in Mary’s life, yet she was still able to sing a thanksgiving psalm that we still sing today. Some blessings may come with apparent danger, but you are encouraged to trust God and give thanks.
And as for David, it is his method of giving thanks that beats every mind that bothers to think about it. Even God was embarrassed and taken by surprise! He had to come and express his shock to the prophet Nathan in a long speech: How can David build for me a House, yet my last building instructions were for a mere Tent? I interpret what David conceived in his heart to have been so large an offering that God could not remain silent about his embarrassment. In human terms such expressions would be accompanied with tears of joy and a breaking voice in shock of a large gift brought by an unsuspecting friend. God quickly delivered profuse blessings even before the offering was delivered; this part of the blessing would even outlive David: ‘Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ All these highlight that it is a good and noble thing to give thanks, and to give thanks intentionally with a selfless gift.