by Andrea Stunz
“I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1 (NASB)
Psalm 34:1 was the first scripture I ever memorized – for me. By “for me,” I mean that, while John 3:16 is the typical first memory verse of every Sunday School attending child in history, it was a scripture I needed at the time. As opposed to being “motivated” (probably with a roll of Smarties or a Pixie Stick tube) by a well-meaning Sunday School teacher.
I’m not sure what I was going through at that time, but this scripture verse dug in and took root. I can assure you that the words of Psalm 34:1 have flowed out of my heart more times than I could count since committing it to memory.
This November is my and my husband’s 30th wedding anniversary. We should be celebrating together on a dream trip to New Zealand. But due to his unfaithfulness, this anniversary will not be the milestone dream trip I’d hoped for.
Now, just to clear things up and not to be a total Debbie Downer during this glorious holiday season, my husband and I are doing the hard work to recover and rebuild trust. But honestly, there have been moments when I wasn’t so sure we’d make it to this anniversary date, and my guess is there could be more moments of doubt to come.
Enter Psalm 34:1. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
Did you catch the “at all times” and the “continually” part? When life throws us curveballs, words of blessing don’t just roll off the tongue. I sometimes wonder if David wasn’t gritting his teeth as he wrote this. I certainly read it with a “power of positive thinking” clenched jaw at times. Regardless, we can see how being grateful counteracts hateful and gratitude disables “bad”itude.
But let’s not stay in verse one. Let’s move further into this passage and see what verse two tells us. “My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice.”
Being in a position of humility is imperative to having a heart of gratitude. Our open hearts and open hands put us in the posture to release and receive rather than holding onto the bitterness that keeps us trapped in our misery. When we realize we are finding joy even in the midst of our pain, this is cause for boasting in the Lord and rejoicing!
Further still into Psalm 34, verse three says, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
I have a sign in my home that says, “Together is my favorite place to be.” I learn the parts to a song long before I ever learn the words. I rarely sing the melody. Even when listening to an acapella solo, my heart will find a harmony part to sing. Exalting the Lord together is definitely my favorite. Let’s sing the beautiful song of gratitude together.
I find myself feeling incredibly grateful when a baby is born – especially when it’s a new grandbaby of mine! I’m reminded that, as the lungs fill with their first gasp of life, the love and labor which brings forth life has a purpose. Life itself has meaning. If life didn’t matter, God wouldn’t keep making new ones.
I am grateful for each new day. All the more if it comes with a beautiful sunrise. The rising of the sun brings with it a sure hope for something better.
I am grateful for 30th anniversaries. Yes, you read that correctly. For this is one that shouldn’t be happening, at least by any standard of practical reasoning. God is making a way in the wilderness, parting the sea of despair, providing enough manna for today, and all of the other scriptural metaphors you’d like to apply here, and our marriage is not without hope of redemption.
Psalm 1 reminds us that when we delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it day and night, we are like a tree planted near the water source. When we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, our selfish desires will give way to the delight of His ways. Our clenched fists open up giving way to receiving the goodness that God desires for us. This is when we will be grateful anyway.
We know those who have lost everything. We have friends whose hearts are broken over their children’s bad choices. We support our friends whose marriages are walking on the edge of brokenness or perhaps didn’t find restoration. We experience our own version of shattered dreams. When devastation hits our home and hearts, it is then that being grateful needs to become an intentional choice rather than expecting it to come naturally. We’re going to need to look for it. Sometimes with laser-beam focus.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
Whatever we’re going through and whatever we’re facing, see where God is doing a new thing. He’s making a way and providing a stream right where we are.
If this season of thanksgiving finds your heart level with the dry ground, ask God to lead you through the wilderness to your stream in the wasteland. Stretch out your hands, palms up, in a posture to receive. Shore up your footing and let your roots drink deeply from the Source. I believe with a heart that chooses to bless the Lord at all times, we will, at all times, find something to be grateful for.
What can you be grateful for anyway?
Andrea Stunz finds joy in her family, grace in her friends, beauty in a story, purpose in the sunrise, wonder in her travels, home where her WiFi router is, and hope in Colossians 1:17. Connect with Andrea on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and find more of her writings at andreastunz.com.