Summary: When we discern God’s grace, we will demonstrate gratitude to God.
We are looking at Psalm 116 this morning. The content and relationship described in this Psalm cause one to think that the psalm writer is King David. This psalm is a personal testimony of thanksgiving to God. Over 30 times, the writer uses "I," "me," and "my." The words contrast the difficulties of life, even death with the goodness and reliability of God. The unspecified near-death suffering did not turn the psalm writer away from God but drew him closer to God.
I read that we are guaranteed only one of three rings in life. We are not guaranteed an engagement ring or a wedding ring, but all of us will own to some degree suffering.
Suffering can either break us down or build us up. Suffering can also either separate us from God or draw us closer to God. This morning, we will learn from the psalm writer a great life lesson in the midst of suffering. This lesson allows suffering to build us up and draw us closer to God. We can sum up the lesson in six words: Grace discerned leads to gratitude demonstrated.
For those who don’t remember or don’t know what God’s grace is, God’s grace includes God’s unconditional love and His mercy. Grace is a gift we do not earn and cannot repay. Grace discerned leads to gratitude demonstrated.
There have been several very hot days this summer, and on those days the church office was like an oven by early afternoon. When people called and asked how I was doing, I would reply, "I’m dying in the office." After answering like that a few times, I conditioned myself to reply to the question, "How are you?" with either, "I’m boiling here," or "I’m not boiling here."
Self-pity and blindness to God’s grace removed any demonstration of gratitude from my replies and from my life. But this week, I learned from the Psalmist about discerning God’s grace in the midst of life’s discomforts. I wouldn’t call being inside a hot office suffering.
I can stand up here and tell you that I thank God for the fan in the office. I thank God for the concern of God’s people. I thank God for the pounds that have come off as a result of my sweating in the office. I’m the only pastor in this county with a sauna in my office. And I thank God that Valley Baptist Church has an office space for me.
When we understand or can discern God’s grace in our life situation, we can demonstrate gratitude to God. Let’s see how the psalmist demonstrated gratitude to God following his discernment of God’s grace in his life.
FIRST, the Psalmist discerned God’s grace of hearing his cry for mercy, and he demonstrated his gratitude by loving God. (We see this in verses 1-2.) It’s no small happening to get the listening ear of the God of the universe, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
A few years back, a friend told me she was paying a psychologist once a week just to have someone listen to her. We have done nothing to earn or pay for the listening ear of God. He listens because He loves us. And when we know God listens because of His grace, we demonstrate gratitude to God by loving Him back. The Apostle John speaking about the origin of our love, wrote, "We love because [God] first loved us."
SECOND, the Psalmist discerned God’s grace of salvation, and he demonstrated his gratitude by continual dependence upon God. (We see this in verses 3-7.) The Psalmist was facing trouble and sadness that made his life like hell (that’s the original Hebrew). God didn’t remove the horrible circumstances from the Psalmist’s life, but God did protect and keep safe his soul. Because the Psalmist recognized God’s salvation, he demonstrated his gratitude to God by calling upon God continually.
Some of you might know of Joseph Scriven. He was a brilliant young man engaged to a beautiful lady. On the night before the wedding, his fiancé was pulled from a pond where she had accidentally fallen and drowned. He never overcame the shock, and in the sadness of the latter portion of his life, he wrote this poem:
"What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer."
God is dependable. If we trust in Jesus Christ, God will changed our eternal address from Hell to Heaven, and He will enable us to endure hell on earth. The Apostle Paul reminds us, "He [God] who began a good work in us, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."