The last season of my life has been one of absolute gratefulness upon gratefulness. In the midst of dark times, I can say that the joy of Yahweh has truly been my strength, and Jesus’ people have been my abounding encouragement. I am ever more aware and in awe of the never-ending goodness and startling love of my Creator, the heart-stopping innocence and sacrifice of Jesus, and the overwhelming Presence of the Spirit within and around me. Wherever you are on your journey with God, I hope you can be encouraged to be grateful, simply for all that God is.
Give thanks to Yahweh, for Yahweh is good—the love of Yahweh is never-ending. Let Israel say: “The love of Yahweh is never-ending.” Let the house of Aaron say: “The love of Yahweh is never-ending.” Let those who revere Yahweh say: “The love of Yahweh is never-ending.”
When I had no one else to turn to, I cried out to Yahweh, and Yahweh set me free. Yahweh is Here; I will not fear. What are people going to do to me, when Yahweh is on my side? Yahweh is my ever-present Helper—I turn a face of triumph towards those who turn against me. Refuge in the Presence of Yahweh is far greater than the comfort people can give.
[Psalm 118, 1-8, heavily paraphrased from the NIV, KJV, and NLT.]
I dissected this passage and put it into my own words, like a poorly-plagiarized essay, in order to make you think about what is being said (this is in no way Scripture, just like The Message is not Scripture). The author (or rather—these being lyrics—the artist) is making declarations about the goodness of God. This seems almost cliché in the Christian tradition, we are often left thinking, “yeah, wow, God is good—cool.” In order to really be thankful for the goodness of Yahweh, I think we need to step into a fuller understanding of what it means.
There is nothing in the universe or outside of this universe that can claim authority over Jesus—through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made (see this in context, John 1:1-3). Therefore, there is absolutely nothing that demands the Godhead to be good; it would be blasphemous to suggest that—indicative of a higher power above the Highest Power. If Yahweh had so been, Yahweh could have decided to be a vengeful, hateful ruler, creating human beings with consiousness and emotion and intellect, only to destroy us in a torturous, fiery wrath. But that is not how Yahweh is, and for that, I am grateful. Jesus does not only destroy; Jesus creates. Jesus does not hate; Jesus loves. Jesus does not take joy in needless suffering; Jesus takes joy in suffering that refines and brings us into deeper friendship with the Spirit. Jesus does not bring us into the world only to exercise judgment on us; Jesus raises us, from childhood, on a road that leads to Him, with His Spirit to work in us at every turn. Jesus does not consume us with wrath in punishment for sin; Jesus chastens us, burning away the chaff to refine the gold. And everything that Jesus is, He did not need to be.
The artist says, effectively, “Give thanks to Yahweh. Why? Because Yahweh is good. Why do I believe this? Because the love of Yahweh is never ending.” And after a chorus of reflection on this, he continues, “how do I know the love of Yahweh is never ending? When I had no one else to turn to, I cried out to Yahweh, and Yahweh set me free.” God’s goodness does not stop at simple fact, if it did, it would be artificial. When we come to the end of ourselves, realizing we cannot lean on our own strength, or the strength of those around us, we end up in the arms of God. Because God is good, and God loves us, and God wants us.
Today, be thankful that God is good.