“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” These beginning and ending lines of Psalm 107 call us to trust in the ‘loyal love’ of God.
My emotional state can sometimes swing from elation to near depression when I experience the ups and downs of everyday life. When reviewed, my own comings and goings are mentally evaluated as “Yes, this made me happy,” or “Just great; what an awful day!” What is even more problematic is when my acceptance by God is questionable as evidenced by my thoughts, “Yes, God loves me,” or “God must not love me.” Are my beliefs and prayers merely wishes based on my definition of goodness? And are the distresses in my life the consequence of my unfaithfulness?
To be honest, my self-doubt and negative self-talk have roots much deeper than my confession of sins at the end of the day might warrant. I’m sometimes filled with longing and sadness for what used to be my childhood sunny disposition and ‘no horizon’ ambition. The skewed trauma responses from life experiences have upped fear to a new level of shutting down and hyper-defensive behaviors. Like having getting into an argument with my husband about making coffee in the morning.
Compare that idiocy with news about a family’s newborn lying in ICU with his parents’ helpless finger tips pressed against the glass, tearful and fretful pairs of eyes staring at their little one. What prayers do I have for them? The empathic me falls to my knees pleading for mercy. The broken me fears the worst.
Yet, God alone, calls us to trust in His loyal love. Why would that seem right to me? His words comfort and compel me. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Forever is a long time; and thankfully in the here and now, God grants us healing, rescue, provision, and more. Four times just in this one chapter of Psalms, the psalmist writes, “Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (By the way, the exclamation marks are quoted.)
These “wonderful works” are many – God satisfies the longing soul, fills the hungry soul with goodness, breaks the prison chains, brings the dying back from the very brink of death, calms the raging sea, and guides us back to a haven of rest. When we see these things, we understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
It is in the transition – that is, from the distress to the relief – that we must give ourselves to prayer. Pray for the poor and the needy (whether that be me or someone else) in this same way as the psalmist: “Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy, that they may know that this is Your hand – that You, Lord, have done it!” And we will be able to exclaim with heart-felt emotional and soulful expressions of joy. Yes, praise Him above the clamor and confusion of the multitude…greatly praise the Lord!