Summary: This was David's song, and if we see life whole and see the infinite realm of the non-existent and non-happenings of life, we to will have a song of praise and a heart of gratitude regardless of life's troubles and trials.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being occupied with what happens that we forget that
there is so much to be thankful for because of what doesn't happen. For example: Peter
Marshall died of a heart attack as a middle aged man with great potential ahead of him as
Chaplain of the Senate and popular Washington pastor. It was a tragedy, and Catherine
Marshall has written much about the horrible grief and agony of adjustment, but she has
also written about the marvelous blessing of what did not happen to Peter Marshall. This
puts even the tragedy into a new light.
As a young man he was taking a short cut one dark night through unfamiliar territory.
He did not realize how dark it was. He suddenly heard someone call his name. He stopped
and took a few more steps, and then he heard it again. He stopped completely still and tried
to peer into the darkness. It was so scary, for he could not see anything. He fell to his knees
and began to feel around him, and to his shock he discovered that he was right on the brink
of an abandoned stone quarry. One more step and he would have plummeted to his death.
There was never a doubt in his mind that God had spoken and spared his life. By grace all
that he did for the rest of his life was made possible. Later a car killed a friend he was
walking with, but it missed him. He was spared again. Another time a plane crashed that he
had missed, and a boat caught on fire 10 miles out to sea, and he was again spared.
The point is that though he died so young, he didn't die so much younger, which he easily
could have done. He lived long enough by the grace of God so that his early death was a
shock and a loss to the whole Christian world. His life has had one of the greatest impacts on
America than that of any preacher in this century. And it was all because of what did not
happen. It makes me think again of the book of Ruth where, if Elimelech would have died
sooner, Naomi would never have been in Moab to meet Ruth. If her sons would have died
sooner she never would have been Ruth's mother-in-law, and all of the influence of Naomi
and Ruth on history would never have been.
It was what did not happen that made possible all that did happen. We need to balance
out life and its problems by looking at what did not happen as well as what did. It is the
non-events that help us see the happenings from a broader perspective. They add light to
the darkness, and give meaning to what otherwise may seem senseless. In almost every
negative event of life you can find something that did not happen that enables you to have a
basis for thanksgiving.
Your life and mine only have meaning right now because of what did not happen. It is
not likely any of us would be alive today had certain things happened in the past that did not.
One of our members told of an event in his younger years where he was working and a man
pulled a large knife on him and threatened him. The adrenaline poured into his body and he
was so angry that he grabbed a clever and so frightened the man that he fled at such a pace
that he didn't even open the screen door but went right through it. That story could have
had a different ending with him on the floor stabbed to death. But that did not happen, and
that non-happening is the basis for his great thanksgiving.
We all have stories that could, with just slight changes in the timing, have led us to an
early grave. We are only here because of many things that never happened. That is what
David is thanking God for in verse 3 of Psa. 30. "O Lord, you brought me up from the
grave; you spared me from going down into the pit." David was alive and well, and he was
praising God because of what did not happen. This theme of negative thankfulness runs all
through this Psalm. In verse 1 David exalts God for what God did not let happen. One of
David's great fears never materialized. He dreaded to have his enemies gloat over him, but
he thanks God that it never happened. He not only didn't die physically, but he didn't die
psychologically or emotionally. I can just imagine David saying, "If that ever happened to
me I would just die." But it didn't happen, and he is grateful for that which never was.