It’s that time of year when introverts like me must face the hard fact: ’tis the season for parties and potlucks. My daughter thinks it’s both sad and amusing that I look at a holiday party as something for which I must brace myself, as she LOVES getting out of the house and visiting with “other people besides you people,” as she says. Her feelings are understandable: she is an extrovert island in a sea of introverts. Her brothers, father, and I enjoy each other’s company, yet find refuge in solitude—so while we enjoy certain aspects of good party, social events won’t ever top our list of things to do.
Thanksgiving Day was the first big gathering of the year for our family, to take place at my husband’s uncle’s house. My daughter was so looking forward to it (she blogged about it here). Meanwhile, I lay awake early that morning, thoughts churning at high speed, running down the mental list of all the work I could be doing (freelance work, housework, Christmas plotting and planning, making written lists and checking them twice) instead of socializing. But even I realized this was a ridiculous attitude. God made us with a need to rest, after all. It wouldn’t hurt me to take a day off—I might even enjoy it!
I turned in my Bible to my devotional passage for the day, Hebrews 13:15.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”
I took a deep breath and felt my heart softening. Here it was, Thanksgiving Day, and I was starting the morning with griping rather than praise. After that reality check, I spent some time reflecting on the multitude of blessings in my life, including God’s unfailing mercy and grace toward me, despite my party-pooper attitude and other failings.
Something occurred to me as I read other passages about thankfulness and praise: why did God call it a sacrifice of praise? Perhaps because it can be outside the norm to just praise him. After all, it’s natural to come before him with our needs and hurts, but praising him, especially during difficult times, can take some work, some extra meditation and time, to examine the depth of his love and goodness, to consider how his guiding hand has been apparent along the path of our lives, and tell him how much we love him for it.
It seems that the writer of Psalm 136 desired to do just that. Each verse begins with some great deed or attribute of God as related to the Israelites and concludes with the phrase, “for his mercy endureth forever.” The final verse of the chapter says,
“O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Throughout their history, God’s mercy never failed the fickle Israelites, and it will never fail us. For that alone, he deserves bucketsful of praise and thanksgiving, in the midst of all the small stuff we sweat about every day. For me, that might be a holiday party (though I had a wonderful time at our family Thanksgiving get-together, by the way). What is it for you? I’d love to hear from you.