“You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
—Psalm 118:28-29, NKJV
The wonder of God, His love for us, and His plan of salvation in Jesus for all who will receive Him can all slip into a rather rote familiarity, almost dullness. Powerful accounts or truths from the pages of Scripture dissolve into a type of a “been there, heard/read that” fatigue, where the astounding becomes something we take for granted, strangely try to soften, or don’t examine closely.
Usually read during Holy Week is this short, almost nondescript sentence from the Last Supper Jesus shared with His disciples: “And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30, NASB). Some versions of the Bible footnote that the hymn was actually the “Hallel,” or Psalms 113-118. Noted for their spirit of thanksgiving and joy, the Hallel Psalms are sung especially at Passover because they mention deliverance from Egypt.
It’s amazing to think that thanksgiving was in Jesus’ heart and on His tongue to His Father as He knowingly, steadfastly walked right into what it would cost Him physically, emotionally, and spiritually to procure salvation for sinful humanity. Within moments, those He had dined and worshipped God with—who He had just conferred a special place at His table and on thrones in His coming eternal kingdom (Luke 22:28-30)—would betray, abandon, and deny knowing Him.
And yet here He is, giving thanks: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24, NKJV).
As finite beings, we struggle with reconciling the mystery of Jesus as both fully God and fully man. When perplexed by our own suffering and trials, our rationale can go something like this—Jesus was fully God, so that kind of negates His pain and suffering and that, of course, explains why He could give thanks despite them.
But in that line of faulty logic, we downplay that Jesus was indeed fully man. In bloody sweat, tears, and agony of spirit, Jesus pled with the Father in Gethsemane to “please take this cup of suffering away from me” (Luke 22:42, TLB). He made the decision to own His personal winepress of pain, to submit to His Father’s will, “This is the day the Lord has made…”
Thankfulness is almost archaic in the entitled world that has largely lost or never known it, especially when it involves God. For Christians, thanksgiving can be measured by how we embrace the sheer enormity of this truth: “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV). How astounding is this truth to us? Or is it something we merely take for granted?