Worship with Thanksgiving

So thank God for his marvelous love, 
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!   
Psalm 107:21-22

It’s easy to praise God when life is good, right? Or is it?

My husband and I just returned from a week-long cruise to Alaska. Life doesn’t get much easier than life aboard a cruise ship. We enjoyed luxury accommodations, beautiful scenery and pampering 24/7. We had more food than we needed whenever we wanted it served in restaurants that all had an ocean view. Nothing to complain about there, right?

Except . . . people did.

You’d hear a murmur here, a grumble there—a steak wasn’t cooked to the diner’s specifications, a line was too long in the spa, a bed was a little too hard. Much as I hate to admit it, even I may have groused a little too much about the weather. “If only the sun would shine,” I’d say, as if I hadn’t just arrived from the lower 48 where we were baking under the broiling glare of full sunshine.

And then our fishing guide told us they’d had sunshine along the Alaska coastline the week before . . . and his clients hadn’t been able to fish all the best spots because the waves were too high. The ocean was like glass the day we fished under overcast skies. In Juneau, our canoe guide told the story of a group she’d taken out a few days earlier who had been unable to oar their canoe more than a third of the way across the lake because of the three-foot waves caused by—you guessed it—the sun. Though it rained for our outing, our group was able to canoe all the way across the lake the day we were there—getting within fifty feet of the magnificent glacier on the other side. We were even able to canoe right up alongside a gigantic iceberg that had calved from that glacier—close enough to touch its frozen surface.

One of the reasons I’ve never cruised before is because I can get seasick on a swing set. Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive about this trip. Yet the seas were calm the entire time we traveled, and I had no problems. That wouldn’t have been the case the week before when the weather was sunny. Apparently, warm sunshine equals strong south winds in Alaska. Who knew?

God had given me exactly the type of weather I needed to enjoy my vacation to the fullest, and yet . . .  I complained. Kind of reminds me of the Israelites who were fed daily on manna from heaven—food fit for angels and God himself—and yet complained because they had no meat. How could they have so quickly forgotten the fleshpots of Egypt brought with them the costly price tag of chains and misery?

Let’s face it. We’re a people prone to complaining—even in the best of times. Yet Psalm 53:23 tells us one of the best ways to praise God is with thanksgiving: “. . . giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.”

So would you try something with me this week? Let’s exchange our ingrained cruise-ship mentality of entitlement for an attitude of gratitude. Every time a complaint slips through our lips, let’s replace it with at least three things for which we are grateful. It’ll bring honor to the One who truly deserves it. And who knows? If we get our minds off the steak that wasn’t cooked to our liking, we might finally notice the family of whales swimming just outside our restaurant window.

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