There were a solid 10 years I dreaded Thanksgiving. Not because I didn’t have something to be thankful for, but because there was (and still is) an emptiness. A void. An estrangement. That emptiness was like a vacuum, sucking out all the joy of the holiday and my life. But a few years ago, after a lot of healing, I decided I didn’t want that to be my reality anymore. I wanted something more. I wanted the abundant life Jesus promises (John 10:10). I wanted to enjoy the holiday, despite the void, despite the pain.
And Psalm 100 gave me the direction I needed. The hope I desired.
Psalm 100 set me free from the joy-sucking vacuum that invaded my life.
For the first time I realized regardless of my season, circumstances, or present reality, I can and should always give thanks because
God is my Creator
God is my Redeemer
However, I was getting stuck on the HOW. Especially when I wasn’t feeling all the feels we assume go with thankfulness. But the author of this Psalm graciously gave us 7 relevant How-Tos to cultivate gratitude in our daily life, all year round.
And once I started incorporating these HOWs into my life, the most amazing thing happened—the emotions followed! And then God opened my heart to see other blessings He has placed in my life. He helped me appreciate things I took for granted or felt entitled to like the gifts they are. He taught me that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17). It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.
Beloved, Psalm 100 was also written for you. The hope it offers is yours. It’s for all who follow Jesus and call Him their Creator and Redeemer.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
Psalms 100:1-5 NLT
I grew up in northern Minnesota just outside of Duluth. The Land of 10,000 Scandinavians with plenty of Irish and Germans thrown in for good measure. These were hardworking, kind, and generous people. They were dependable and the kind you’d want to have as a friend. And they were stoic. They showed little emotion, but they loved genuinely, just not overtly.
Their stoic nature was incorporated into their faith—was carried with them into church on Sunday mornings. I remember once when a visitor raised her hands in worshipful praise during a hymn one Sunday morning; the “older people” weren’t sure how to handle it. There was a lot of grumbling and talking about it later. A few even thought she was trying to invite evil spirits into the church. HA!
Can you imagine their reaction if someone started SHOUTING praises to God in church? Yet, this is exactly what the psalmist is telling us to do—SHOUT for JOY–in public! Actually physically shout it out so others can hear, testify, and join in with your praise.
If you think about it, we all already know how to do this. Consider the last deal you snagged, whether it’s a big sale or Craig’s List find; or think of something new you discovered that you’re passionate about or love such as a new gym, restaurant, or pair of shoes—we tend to tell EVERYONE about it, don’t we? We can’t keep it to ourselves because we’re excited, happy, thankful; and we want others to experience it too and share in our excitement.
So why should shouting out and sharing our praises for what God has done for us be any different?
“Faith is a private matter,” rung in my ears for years. I routinely heard this mantra spoken to me when I was growing up. So I learned not to share. Not to open up. I kept my faith to myself. Can you identify with me?
But that’s NOT what the psalmist says, nor is it what God commands us to do throughout the entire Bible. If our faith was a private matter, Jesus would never have given us The Great Commission. Paul wouldn’t have implored us to encourage each other, to build each other up; to pray for, worship with, and reprimand each other.
I know many of you have several reasons to shout for joy, and I join you in your praise. May Jesus Name be proclaimed and praised for all to hear.
But I also know, some of you are searching for that joy, for reasons to give thanks. Your pain is weighing you down, snuffing out what little joy remains. Beloved, I’m sorry for your pain; my heart breaks for you as you wrestle through the agony. Please know I am praying for you.
If you’re struggling to find reasons in your present circumstances to shout for joy—follow the instructions in this Psalm, shout because God is your Creator and Redeemer. Let His Spirit wash over you and hold you. Let the Comforter do His job and comfort your broken heart while your soul magnifies your God. In the process, choose the joy He offers. Remember, on the day of your salvation God placed His Spirit in you, and as we choose to draw closer to Jesus and follow Him, this Spirit produces fruit in our lives—fruit with various qualities…one of which is joy (Galatians 5:22-23).
Choose joy, Beloved. Choose to worship your Creator and Redeemer. And little by little the feelings of joy will emerge. Little by little you will notice other things to give thanks for. Like I stated earlier, this was a process. The key was—I had to take my focus off of my pain and myself and put it on Jesus. I had to choose joy. I had to choose thankfulness. And THEN the feelings came.
SHOUT with JOY to the LORD, all the earth!