I have seen a commercial lately that has really disturbed me. It shows people opening up their new iPhone and being totally mesmerized. The tagline at the end of the commercial says, “We know that you don’t want anything to come between you and your new iPhone.” How sad.
Because of the commercial nature of our society, we are constantly being told that there is something missing in our lives. If only you buy this product, you will be happy. But that is a lie, because has soon as the next generation whatever comes out, you will be told that your old thing won’t make you happy. People are chasing an artificial happiness, fueled by promises that at best can bring a momentary lift. The outcome of this chase is discouragement.
When we put our eyes on the wrong things, we find ourselves spending our energy, time and resources on things that don’t last. Jesus warned us against making the material stuff of this world our primary goal in life. Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12:15 Solomon discovered this truth the hard way; he lived it out to the full. At the end of a life of indulgence, he came to this conclusion. Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 5:10
Solomon’s father, King David, knew the answer to true contentment in life. He let us in on the secret in Psalm 103.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:1-5
First, David challenges us to get our focus in the right place. He calls for us to let God reign in the very depth of our being. The reason we chase after all the stuff of the world is that we are trying to fill a hole in our soul. We have a deep longing for meaning and purpose. Satan tells us that we can fill that hole with material pleasures, but they all fail. The only way to fill the hole is to let Christ be at the center of our lives. When we do that, everything else falls into place.
Second, David challenges us to actively remember and celebrate all that God has done for us. We all tend to be like sports fans. We quickly forget the past and want to know, what have you done for me today? All that matters is the present. This leads to constant dissatisfaction on our part. When we are consumed with “the next thing”, we lose sight of both the past and the present. We cannot see the blessings that God is pouring into our lives, because we are already looking down the road. David puts up a huge, spiritual stop sign. STOP, and take the time to reflect. There is an old hymn that says, count your blessing. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done. A good way to regain a positive focus is to take a blank sheet of paper and begin to write down all the blessings that God has given to you. As the list grows, your eyes will be opened to the abundance of God’s grace.
Third, David challenges us to let God revive our soul. When we consider what Jesus did for us on the cross, how can we not be thankful. When we consider the inheritance that we have in Christ, how can we not be thankful. When we consider God’s active presence in our lives, how can we not be thankful. The blessings of God are for now and for eternity. It is the best both/and we can have. Right now Ford has a commercial where they declare that “and” is better than “or.” From a spiritual perspective, I can say AMEN! Through Christ we can experience God’s love, mercy and grace now AND for all of eternity. “And” is definitely better than “Or.”
David makes a powerful statement at the end of this passage. “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” I want to make two observations about this. First, when we are focused on Christ, the desires of our heart will line up with God’s will for our life. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 Second, God wants us to enjoy life and the material things of this world in positive, God-honoring ways. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
1 Timothy 6:17 God is not stingy or an ascetic. God created this world with innumerable pleasures for us to enjoy. He is like a parent, who delights in seeing their children enjoy the gifts he has given them.
It is easy for us to fall into the trap of discontent and discouragement. Almost everything in our world is leading us in that direction. There is another path that we can take; the path of gratitude. Stop, reflect, and rejoice in the abundance of God’s grace.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…