We have been considering how ‘giving thanks’ keeps us walking in step with the Lord. It keeps us connected in faith with Him, through busy times, overstretched times, and it keeps us in good relationship with Him through those challenging times of deciding what is the right way for us, in the face of some strong opinions all around us. So, in case that seems like we are saying that everyday will then be just like a walk in the park, today we are looking at how thanksgiving helps us when we are making a mess of the day, or when the difficulties come and it feels overwhelming.
In Psalm 37:23 we read that ‘the steps of a good (or God fearing ) man are ordered by the Lord and He delighteth in his way.’ AV. The Amplified Bible expands delighteth into ‘He busies Himself with his every step’. That, for me, shifts the sense of God being somewhere ‘out there’ being pleased with me as I try to walk through today aright, to God watching intently, being intimately involved, and even ordering my steps, for His glory.
In the very next verse David declares his confidence that even though this ‘good’ or ‘god fearing’ man may himself fall, or stumble it will not be a disaster. Why? Because ‘the Lord upholds him with His hand’. I so love that verse. How wonderful and what a relief to know that we have such a faithful God that, in our mistakes and stumblings, He is not ‘giving us marks out of ten’. Nor is He declaring ‘You have failed to walk with Me today in a proper fashion’. No! He is putting out His Mighty Hand to hold us, just as He did for Peter when he began to sink after his epic adventure, when he got out of the boat onto a stormy sea. Matthew 14:28-31.
Turning to the Amplified Bible again, we read that this ‘good man’, ‘though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand and upholds him.’ Psalm 37:24. Clearly the original words used here denote that, when we are in trouble, our God is very active on our behalf. He is right with us in the mix.
It reminds me of the promises in Isaiah 43:2, ‘when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ We again read of that intimacy that the Lord wants to have with us as He specifically declares ‘I will be with you’ at those times of danger.
This is so important because so many of us feel that, when trouble comes, either ‘this is happening because I have done something wrong’, or else ‘it seems like the Lord has left me today because it’s all going wrong’. We have a perfectionist view of walking with God that doesn’t include Him walking with us through our troubled times, or of even allowing there to be troubled times. A far better position to take up is that of ‘when I walk through the valley….I will fear no evil because you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort (strengthen) me’. Psalm 23:4. Note the ‘when’ here! It’s ‘when I walk through the valley’, not ‘if’!
The antidote to feeling ‘I must have done something wrong’, or to the thought that ‘this time of trouble makes me feel like God’s a million miles away’, is to thank Him that His promises still stands. To thank Him that He will be with me in the valley, the flood or the fire. That, even if the trouble is of my own making, He is faithful and will stay with me and help me through it. Thanksgiving helps me to stay connected and to ward of the accusations and insinuations of the evil one, and thanksgiving helps me to grasp His hand as He reaches out to ‘grasp mine’ and uphold me.
Thanksgiving that He is with me and for His promises, enables me to walk with Him and declare with David ‘You make my feet like hinds feet (able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble); He sets my feet securely upon my high places…….. Your right hand has held me up; your gentleness has made me great’ Psalm 18:33,35. AMP.
Then, afterwards, I will want to thank Him some more for all that He has done for me while I was stumbling and faltering. And then thank Him for His gentleness and faithfulness, and for His right hand that grasped and held onto me in love.