The God of our thanks

Published 9:41 am Monday, November 29, 2021

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When I was young, the smart kids had a joke going around. Granted, it’s not side-splitting funny. It went like this: “Did you know that one day they will have an easy-mix packet where you can make instant water? Yeah, all you’ll have to do is tear open the packet, pour out a powder, and just add water.”    

Water is so essential. There is no substitute for the real thing. Guidelines suggest that the minimum we should each take in is 64 ounces a day. One of the most common issues for our senior adults is not drinking enough water. Consistently, so many of the health maladies I watch my church members wrestle with in their older years trace back in some way to not taking in enough water. 

The average adult human body is roughly 60% water. I read last week that the human brain is 70% water. That probably explains dehydration headaches. This substance also lubricates the joints and maintains the digestive system. We use water to make electricity and we still navigate waterways to get around. 

The last presentation I heard by the late Baptist professor Dr. Bob Dale was about Virginia Baptist history and how waterways had formed our state into cultural regions. It was actually fascinating. 

The Old Testament had an uneasy relationship with water. In ancient times, images of crashing seas, threatening storms, floods and the like were all used in literature to symbolize the hardships of life. 

In Psalm 93, we have a psalm of praise that uses water to make a case for the greatness of our God. This nearly impossible to control, always threatening and overwhelming force of Creation was not only seen as being under God’s control. Ultimately, the psalmist reminds us that God made it all. 

God made water. So in this psalm, the very waters of the earth raise up like a voice and give testimony to God’s greatness. The uniqueness of this literary device would catch his audience’s attention. One writer even thinks the writer of this psalm might have just paid her first visit to the beach or coast before penning this scripture. 

This week, we find ourselves in a season of thanks. It’s Thanksgiving week. I wonder why humans actually saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem to come any more naturally or easily than it does? 

In some quarters, it’s been popularized to not say, “I’m sorry.” This is seen as a sign of weakness. There are actually business, cultural and political leaders who will explain to you why they won’t say “I’m sorry.” 

I’m not sure we’ve noticed yet that saying “thank you” isn’t exactly in vogue these days either. Some might see being nice or considerate as a sign of weakness. This little psalm leads us to do exactly that, to collect up and express our thanks. 

Here is a God who is robed in strength. A God who has created all that has been created. Then, the very roaring of the sea becomes a voice that gives testimony to God’s power and greatness. 

The ancients often blew a horn if a Royal were about to speak. Today in our country, if a president walks into a room they play the song “Hail to the Chief.” The water bore the noise that announced the greatness of God for this psalmist. The loud, threatening water announced God in the ears of the writer here. 

I wonder this week what announces God for you? We live in a world that is so expectant. We take technological and scientific victories for granted, so much have we seen. We are so blase about even big things that we struggle to be amazed at all the blessings we have. So, I wonder what it is that gets your attention and calls you to give God the due that is owed? 

Thanksgiving is coming. What I don’t want is for everyone to get silly and start saying “thank you” for just every little tiny thing. What I do hope is that each of us might genuinely get in touch with a sense of real gratefulness. I hope that we might find ways to express that genuine gratitude. That we might live and think and breathe differently, because we don’t take each other and the very things that sustain our lives for granted.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 757-562-5135.