Few things lead me to awestruck worship of our God more than exploring His beautiful creation. Like the time I hiked up the backside of a hill along the coast of Ireland. Standing on the edge of a precipice, the sea breeze blowing in my face, waves crashing against the cliffs below me, and lush, green grass swaying in the wind, I couldn’t imagine a more glorious view to praise God for.
Today I’m back home in Michigan. It’s cold, gray, and dreary outside. The trees bear no shimmering leaves, and nothing remotely close to vibrant or green is peeping through the piles of snow on the ground. And I’m supposed to find beauty in this view as well?
Celebrating God’s goodness and beauty is easy to do when you’re feeling on top of the world! But how do we maintain that passion on days when it’s as if we’re walking through a colorless, two-dimensional world?
Choosing to Give Thanks
Psalm 105 is a song of thanksgiving to God for His majesty, power, and glory. It begins with these joyful words of praise:
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! (vv. 1–3).
Reading these verses, you’d assume the psalmist was feeling fairly optimistic. But we don’t actually know what led him to pen those words. It’s possible he was stressed out and wrote this psalm to remind himself of God’s unfailing character. What we do know is that regardless of whatever he was experiencing and feeling at that moment, he chose to sing praises to God.
Are you willing to do that?
Giving thanks isn’t just a thing we do when life is going great. Our gratitude to God isn’t dependent upon our circumstances but upon God’s character. And because God is always good, we always have something to be thankful for.
The psalmist does this well, spending the majority of the chapter listing reasons why God is worthy of praise. He gives us example after example of times when God was faithful to His people (vv. 7–11), when He saved them from harm (vv. 12–38), when He provided for their needs (vv. 39–42).
The “harm” and “needs” mentioned indicate that times weren’t always good for the psalmist and the people of Israel. And they won’t be for you and me either. In those moments, we’re faced with a choice to make—to worship or whine . . . when your car is totalled . . . when someone lets you down . . . when you’re falsely accused . . . when your spirit mimics an overcast sky.
Go on a Beauty Hunt
While giving thanks is an important part of overcoming those feelings of doom and gloom, it doesn’t mean we should pretend the hard stuff doesn’t exist.
As amazing as it sounds to stay on the coast of Ireland forever, it would be silly to suggest I stand on that cliff for the rest of my life just so I don’t have to face anything dark, dirty, or depressing again.
But is this not what we do in life? We walk naïvely through life, pretending the sun is shining (somewhere!) and that no harm can come our way. Or we refuse to accept reality and grow numb to pain, losing any semblance of joy in the process.
Neither approach to life is sustainable or healthy. Problems aren’t solved by ignoring them, and beauty isn’t found by pretending ugly doesn’t exist. Instead, we dig deeper into the love and comfort of our Savior even as we acknowledge the pain and hardship. If you’re at a loss to know how to do this, the psalmist gives us a hint:
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered (vv. 4–5).
Jesus is who we’re really searching for when we long for a respite from the oppressive darkness. Every time we spot God’s beauty around us—in a breathtaking sunset, a home-cooked meal, or a kind note from a friend—it’s like receiving a special gift from Him with a tag that reads, “Made for you with love.”
There’s beauty all around you. Are you willing to look for it?
Take some time right now to reflect on God’s good character and His good gifts, and then thank Him for them.
I’ll help get you started:
Thank You, Jesus, for providing warmth and shelter against the cold outside. Thank You for winter’s reminder that I no longer live with a spiritually cold, dead heart inside but have been given a new heart through the blood You shed for me. Thank You for Your unending love and grace that brings me new life!
Now it’s your turn! Tell us in the comments where you see God’s beauty and thank Jesus for it.