Psalm 126:3     The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

The exiled Israelites, living as captives in Babylon, could hardly believe their ears when they heard that the Persian king, Cyrus, had conquered their captors and was arranging for their return to their native land, and especially the reinstatement of Zion as their ‘holy hill’.  Their faithful, covenant-keeping God, the LORD, had heard their cries as they ‘sat and wept by the rivers of Babylon’ (see Psalm 137), and now the overflowing joy in their hearts expressed itself in their songs of thanksgiving to him.

Because, like them, all the blessings we receive in our lifetime, and especially the blessing of salvation, are undeserved gifts of God’s grace, there is nothing we can give back to him in ‘payment’.  We can never ‘earn’ them, we can only receive them as free  gifts.  All we can offer to our gracious God in return is deep, heartfelt gratitude.  I am reminded of the account in the Gospels where Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one (and he a Samaritan ‘foreigner’!) bothered to go back to thank him (Luke 17:11-19).  Is this an indication of the sinful condition of man’s heart?  Are we more prone to complain and blame God when things go against us than we are to praise him openly and express our thanks to him when he does ‘great things for us’?

Sometimes I become so caught up with enjoying the blessing of answered prayer that I not only fail to give thanks to God but I forget to recognise that it was his gracious hand that was at work in the first place!  Does the theme of thanksgiving and praise feature as much in our prayer life and worship as it should?

Reflection on these things is especially important for us today when our culture seems to encourage us to focus more on our selves, on our rights, and our expectation of recognition and reward.  Perhaps in these days, a  humble, thankful heart in all circumstances is the best way we have of showing that we identify as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be exploited to his own advantage,  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!’ (Philippians 2:6-8)
– Bruce Christian