The First 15

Friday July 3, 2020

by Don Scott

Is Gratitude Circumstantial?


Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
he heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.


When my children were young, we watched many episodes of Sesame Street. Among the memorable characters, a rather minor one stands out, Telly. He was the eternal pessimist, hopeless in his outlook. In one particular episode, the residents of Sesame Street were preparing to go on a picnic. As they stood under one of the storefront awnings, it began to rain.Telly lamented that the sun was never going to shine again. Almost immediately the rain ceased and the sun began to shine. The cast was elated, all except Telly. Pausing to look upward he said, “Oh, no! It’s never going to rain again!”

It sounds as if Telly wrote Psalm 42. The writer had a deep longing for God, to the point of tears. It was a longing unanswered. “Where is you God now?” Yet, the psalmist remembers the festivals, the joy of worship with huge crowds, great music and the inspiring architecture of the temple. But wait! He is depressed. Why? He cannot understand why. I think this is reminiscent of a Christian’s high moments in our spiritual journey. But what happens the next Sunday? It’s the low we experience after the mountain top experience. We are depressed instead of being grateful. Then comes the chorus, “Hope in God because I will again give thanks, my saving presence and my God.”

Three words stand out: HOPE…AGAIN…THANKS. Hope in God’s goodness, accept with joy the moment without letting worry about tomorrow rob us of the gift we have received. Again give thanks, not just once, but repeatedly. Gratitude is not circumstantial, it is habitual.

I offer this spiritual prescription. PRAISE-GRATITUDE-CONFESSION-GRATITUDE-PRAISE.

This is to be taken with a large dose of hope, hope in God.

Prayer for Today

Thank you God, again for the sun and the rain. Help me to meet you in both. Amen.

The First 15

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