The first two verses of Psalm 9 have often assisted me in regaining a godly perspective when I have grown discouraged or my heart has begun to go astray. Though I do not have the verses memorized verbatim, I can recall the four ideas therein at any moment and find that I am greatly helped, in only a few minutes, by going through the process.
The first idea is to give thanks. It is an exercise in creativity and observation that immediately expands personal gratitude. In even the most trying circumstances, reasons for thankfulness can be found, though it may require creative thinking. I often utilize my time spent alone, such as in the shower or during my daily commute, to speak aloud the reasons I am thankful to the Lord. It may take some effort to begin, particularly if I am in a dark mood. Yet, the exercise itself begins to have a positive impact on my outlook. Nothing is too small to be thankful for. Don’t feel the need to seem spiritual in what you give thanks for. You may find that after naming things you are thankful for that benefit yourself, you will move beyond this to recognize the things that God has entrusted you with in order to be a blessing to others. I urge you to spend some time here because it is the easiest part of this four-pronged initiative and feeds into the other three.
Once you have taken time to give thanks to the Lord, you will be in a far better place for being able to recount the Lord’s wonderful deeds. One way to do this is to remember the ways that the Lord has guided your life. Think about the things that you gave thanks for previously. How did those things come into your life? If you are having difficulty remembering personal events, consider the wondrous deeds of the Lord throughout Scripture and consider their application to your life. If you keep a journal, consider looking back and reading about some of the challenges you faced and how God helped you through difficult seasons. He did it before and He can do it again.
After you have taken the time to give thanks to the Lord for things both small and great, as well as recounting the Lord’s wondrous deeds, I believe you will be ready to rejoice in the Lord. I must admit, I am often not ready to rejoice in the Lord at any moment’s notice. The cares and burdens of life can be daunting and difficult. Yet, just as a lawn needs to be cleared of sticks and debris before it is mowed, our hearts need to be cleared of bitterness and forgetfulness of God’s power, in order to be restored to a place of true joy. I have found that these steps of giving thanks and remembering God’s deeds usher me into a place where it is quite natural to rejoice. I can personally attest that you do not have to be a good dancer to know how to rejoice. Rejoice however you are able. You don’t have to be incredibly creative. Again, I encourage you to speak aloud to the Lord. Consider statements such as, “I rejoice in You, Lord, because You have given me reason to be thankful” or “I rejoice in You, Lord, because You have done glorious things in my life.” In Hebrew, the word davar can be translated as either a word or a thing. Just as God spoke the world into existence, our words have the power to become new realities in our lives.
Now we come to the final step in the process. We have taken the time to give thanks for all kinds of provisions in our life. We have remembered the mighty deeds of the Lord. We have arrived at a place of rejoicing. In the culmination of this spiritual exercise, we sing praise to the name of God Most High. In one of my favorite songs of faith, The Blind Boys of Alabama sing, “Even when you’ve done your very best and things go wrong, You’ll feel a lot better, so much better, if you sing a song.”
A song of praise to the Lord, particularly one filled with gratitude, remembrance and rejoicing will glorify God and elevate the soul of the worshiper. Perhaps, you have a song or two that resonates with your heart and glorifies the Lord. I pray that you sing it earnestly and regularly. I pray that our lives would be filled with songs of joy and praise to the name of our God Most High.