Going Beyond Thanksgiving
Remember those old Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials, with an animated figure of Tony the Tiger, shouting, “They’re grrrreat! Tony was singing the praises of a certain cereal! If you ever want more participation in worship, invite your congregation to compete for the best Tony the Tiger impersonation! They’re great!
Psalm 145 is a Psalm literally praising GOD from A to Z. With each successive verse it works its way through the Hebrew alphabet, alternating between praise and descriptions of God’s character.
Praise is different from thanksgiving. We are thankful for things we receive or have. Praise doesn’t depend on what we get; instead its focus is on the God we have. Its based on our awareness of God and our appreciation of God’s character.
“Thanksgiving” depends on how we look at our lives — paying attention to what we have been given. “Praise” has little to do with waiting and seeing what we get out of life, be it from our charm and good looks, our abilities, or even God’s gifts. Praise has to do with the willingness to see that, whatever else we get out of this life, we get God!
When we head into the high waters of life, even sure-footed faith can sometimes become dislodged or erode under momentary pressure. It is for these times that the Psalmist has to draw deep from his own experience with, and understanding of God’s nature and the character of God’s kingdom, to offer us these reminders — “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made….The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.”
Praise is something we can offer God no matter where we find ourselves in life. The point of praise is this gift of getting closer to God who desires to be our heart’s focus. And being closer to God when life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d expect, or hope, is the grrrreatest!