Wendy and I love Thanksgiving. We intentionally hold off decorating for Christmas so we make sure we don’t miss this season. We put up some decorations with a Thanksgiving theme just as a reminder. I have some wonderful memories growing up around Thanksgiving. My mom would host Thanksgiving family meal with her parents and her sister’s family. The family Ping-Pong table served as our dinner table. I can still the decorations on the table. I have a couple of them in our house now.
One Thanksgiving memory stands out for me. My Dad and I attended a community wide Thanksgiving service while my Mom and sister were busy preparing the Thanksgiving feast. The scripture for that day was Psalm 103. For some reason, God really spoke to me through that Psalm. Maybe I was old enough to really begin to grasp its truths. Maybe it was because I had just come home from college and being home with my family put me in an extra thankful and reflective mood. Whatever the reason, that Psalm blessed me that day and has stayed with me to this very day. I put it to memory and have recalled it often over the years.
So today, I thought we would prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving and use Psalm 103 as a guide to being thankful. In a previous post, we talked about “festooning the Lords Prayer.” Let’s “festoon” Psalm 103. For this exercise we will focus on Psalm 103:1-5, 11-14.
Reflecting on Psalm 103
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
This verse helps define the purpose for this prayer. I want everything within me, down to the core of my soul, to bless and praise the name of the Lord. He is worthy of my full attention and worship.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
In the presence of God, my desire is to fully appreciate and recount as many benefits as I have received. Like the old hymn says: “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God has done.”
who forgives all your iniquity,
Now the Psalm gives us some things to consider. God has forgiven us! Of Everything! Though the enemy tries to lie to us and condemn us for past failures, we know the truth that God has forgiven us. I can approach the throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16).
who heals all your diseases,
Some commentators see this as more than just physical diseases but can also be a metaphor for any type of setback or hardship. Whether it is a physical illness or emotional pain or a difficult circumstance, God is the true healer and desires to heal you and me. “He heals the brokenhearted and by His wounds we are healed” (Psalm 147:3).
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
What a pit of despair I would be in if it weren’t for Jesus, my redeemer! Instead of life in a pit, I have a life in the Kingdom of God experiencing love and mercy(compassion). What kind of God we have who goes to the extend of giving His Son to redeem us and offer us new life. How can it be?
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
God’s desire is to satisfy us with His goodness. In our relationship with Him, we are renewed and refreshed every day.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
Sometimes it is hard to imagine the depth of God’s love. It is so immense we cannot begin to describe it. It is a love that we have no earthly comparison. We see glimpses of it from time to time as people perform some incredible deeds, but those are only tiny examples of how much God loves us.
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
The distance between east and west is infinite. They never meet! Our sins are truly farther away from God than we can imagine. And that is by His design and desire. His desire to have a relationship with us is so important to Him that He removes all barriers of sin so we can experience life with Him. Now! Not just in eternity, but now!
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
This verse is very meaningful to me. I had a great Dad and we had a wonderful relationship. I am also a father and grandfather and it’s hard to describe how dearly I love my children and grandchild. This helps me begin to grasp the possibility that I can be loved so deeply and completely by my heavenly Father.
Festooning Psalm 103
Heavenly Father, you are worthy of all praise. From the depths of my soul, I praise you and thank you for who you are and all you have done for me. Thank you for forgiving me all of my sins and accepting me right where I am. Thank you for healing my heart of atrial fibrillation. It is such a gift to have a steady heartbeat. Thank you for healing me emotionally so I can see you as you are and not through the distorted picture I once had of you. I would spend time in an emotional pit thinking you were disappointed in me or that I wasn’t doing enough to meet your expectations. But you redeemed my heart and covered me with your spirit of love and compassion. Life works so much better when I am content and satisfied with your provision for my life. When the enemy tempts me to doubt, I only have to remind myself of the truth that my sins are no more and that your love is always available and beyond what I can imagine. I know how much I love my kids and yet your love for me is far beyond that. Wow! Thank you for all of the blessings of the life you have given me. I love you, Father.
The Bible is filled with exhortation to be thankful and to do so in any or all situations. This can be hard to fathom when we are going through a hard time and yet God as our creator knows what is best for us. Current research also shows the benefits of gratitude. Some benefits include:
- Reduce depressive symptoms.
- Reduce your blood pressure.
- Improve your sleep.
- Increase your frequency of exercise.
- Improve your overall physical health.
Let Psalm 103 be one of those passages to lead you to a place of gratitude and thanksgiving. From my family to yours, we wish you a blessed Thanksgiving and pray that He satisfies you with His goodness.