“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2 ESV
When we go through trying times, it is very hard to be thankful about anything. We rather grumble bitterly, complain in our dissatisfaction and fold our arms in arrogant self-pity. We also tend to forget any of the good gifts that God has given us in the past or the promises that He has guaranteed for our futures.
Look at the example of the Israelites when they went through the wilderness (see the books of Exodus and Numbers) – they grumbled because they were dissatisfied with the food that God had given them; they complained about Moses and Aaron’s leadership, and they grew impatient throughout the journey. Had they forgotten that God had spared them from all of the Egyptians plagues? Had they forgotten that the mighty hand of God had rescued them from their slavery in Egypt? Had they forgotten that they walked on dry land through the Red Sea?
In contrast with the Israelites, the Psalmist thanks the Lord with all of his heart. He rejoices in the Lord and exalts His name with praise. David was no stranger to suffering – many a time he had to flee for his life. Yet David remembered how God sustained him in the past (“…I will recount all of your wonderful deeds…”), therefore he could trust God with his future.
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10 ESV
We are likewise in the wilderness here on earth, traveling to the Promised Land of the New Heavens and the New Earth with God and His Holy Word as our Guide. And while there yet may be suffering on our way, our biggest need have been taken care – we are free from our slavery to sin through Jesus’s death on the cross. This means that we have free access to the Promised Land.
While the Israelites had the cloud by day and fire by night to signify God’s presence, we have something even more special – the Holy Spirit indwelling us. He is also a seal that guarantees our inheritance and hope in a perfect future united with Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 1:13-14). So why grumble?
Let us remember how God has saved and sustained us in the past, so that we too can be thankful, rejoice and exalt God’s name in praise, together with the Psalmist, trusting God with our futures.