David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honour come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name…. Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things. You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord, have created it.”
..for I am sure we ought to love God in our lives and in all the blessings he sends us. We should trust him in our lives, so that when our time comes, but not before, we may go to him in love and trust and joy… We ought to find God and love him in the blessings he sends us.. Once a man has found God in his earthly bliss and has thanked him for it, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to remind himself that these earthly pleasures are only transitory…. But everything in its season, and the important thing is to keep step with God.
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer; from Letters to a friend, in ‘Letters & papers from prison’: SCM 1953)
I have been privileged these past few years to live in one of the loveliest places, where the view from my kitchen sink is a panorama of mountains and water, with ever changing light, and a richness of colours and textures that intoxicate the heart. The lavish outpouring of beauty is a constant challenge to my capacity for thanksgiving, and at times I am moved to tears, overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lord who gives good gifts to his children.
I believe that our future as believers holds something even better, even more glorious than what I now enjoy – a new creation where all that moves us now will be found to be a faint echo of what God plans, and we will need our resurrection bodies in order to contain and express the joy that we will feel as we live there without sin or grief or death.
Even as I anticipate that future though, I am called by God to live in the present. I cannot be in two places or times at once, and He knows that! It is my task and joy to live here, now, to be fully present for those around me, and also – wonderfully – to enjoy all the good things he has provided for me in the present. Yes, these are all gifts which, having been given, may be withdrawn – but that is in His hands, and how churlish, thankless and downright foolish it would be of me to refuse to enjoy them now because one day they will be gone! I honour and praise the King of heaven most fully when I receive and use and appreciate what he has given me each hour and day.
It is my experience that in the midst of grief, and even of near despair, the Lord of my heart is offering me his good gifts – whether in the love and kindness of friends, the power of music to speak comfort, the beauty of the tiniest detail in nature – and I am so thankful that he has taught my eyes and heart to be attentive, so that I can receive these messages of love and the assurance they give of his presence, his power, his faithfulness and his greatness. I rejoice that the human frame is so fashioned by our God that we can experience joy in the midst of sorrow, and light in the midst of darkness, and even as we acknowledge our limitations and needs to Him, we are held and loved and known – what inexpressible comfort there is in such intimate care.
May the Lord give us attentive hearts to receive all the good things he has provided for us today, may he give us thankful hearts to use and appreciate his gifts, may he give us grace to fully enjoy those gifts while never forgetting that the best is yet to come. Though it may lie on the other side of pain and loss, yet it is guaranteed to us as his beloved children. Dear friends, take hold of your days as gifts, relish and cherish them and lay them at his feet each evening as a thank offering, not fearing what the morrow may bring because he will still be with you when it comes.