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Start with a Song

Deuteronomy 16:11
“And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there.”

The call to rejoice in the goodness of the LORD leaves no one out. Gratitude isn’t just for the parents of healthy, well-behaved kids and the happily married couples and the successful entrepreneurs and the locals who’ve made Thanksgiving a tradition and the super spiritual pastors and the tribal leaders like Moses and Joshua and Caleb, but also for the poor and the jobless and the husbandless and the diabetic and the blind and the orphaned and the refugees and the manic depressive. Why? Because just as it’s the nature of faith to see beyond the temporary vail of finite existence, and just as it’s the nature of hope to gaze through the momentary suffering to the promised glory that awaits, so it’s the nature of gratitude to gaze above the din of fallen earth and rejoice in the One Who vowed, “In Me you will have life and have it more abundantly!”

How can Betsy Ten Boom lead a choir of joyful women in the barracks of a Nazi death camp? How can John Huss sing a hymn to God even while being tied to a stake? How can Elisabeth Elliot go back to the very Auca tribe that speared her husband to death and share Christ’s redeeming love with them? How can St. Patrick choose to return to the very Irishmen who’d enslaved him as a boy to tell them of Christ’s love? And how can my high-school English teacher who just got diagnosed with terminal cancer, given only months to live, say to me with tearful sincerity, “I’ve made my peace with God, Seth; now I’m just enjoying the blessing of every second of life like never before”? Because joy in the LORD isn’t determined by circumstances but by gratitude.

Oh Christian, don’t come before Heaven’s throne today with excuses for why your present trial eclipses His tender mercies! “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice,” wrote Paul during his imprisonment. Start with a song of praise today and see where it leads.