Psalm 138 (NRSV)
Verse 1I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
Verse 2I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.
Verse 3On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.
Verse 4All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth.
Verse 5They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.
Verse 6For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.
Verse 7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.
Verse 8The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
My friends and I who have retired in the past couple of years have decided not to talk about our aches and pains, our latest medical procedures, or the price of gasoline thirty years ago. Of course, we will share each other’s burdens when needed, but we would rather take the long view, recognizing the Spirit’s work in our lives.
This psalm is one of thanksgiving, a theme that surfaces continually in our conversations. It’s not that there have not been difficulties, disappointments, and even tragedy over the years, but what we see perhaps more clearly now is that God never left us, even when it might have seemed so.
The psalmist gives voice to some of the things that inspire thanksgiving:
God’s steadfast love and faithfulness
God’s keeping of promises
God’s regard for the lowly
God’s preservation in times of trouble
As we look at our own lives through this lens, no matter how many years there are, we are blessed with grateful hearts and prepared for the work to which God calls us.
Father, create in us joyful hearts as we receive your gifts of love. Strengthen us in the assurance that you are always with us. Guide us in serving all your creation. In Christ’s name. Amen.