My thoughts (David Zier):
Psalm 61 is written as a song to God. Even though the writer starts with distress at the beginning, crying out to God to be there even when the heart is faint, it ends with “I will always sing praises to your name.”
How many times in life do the circumstances dictate how we feel about God or how close we feel to God? When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor 25 years ago, I let out one of those cries. It was something like, “God how could you let this happen to me?” I was not in the mood to sing praises to anyone or anything. I was much younger, in my 20s, and at a time when we think we will live forever. Then reality sets in.
One of the life lessons I learned from that experience is not to take things for granted and to be more grateful. It wasn’t one of those short-lived lessons, but something that has been growing ever since. Even though life is not always easy, I feel like I have learned to be more grateful each and every day. It seems the psalmist learned that same lesson; something modern science is also taking notice of.
Health studies (University of California, Berkley) show us that being grateful is beneficial for our health. People who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits: stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure; higher levels of positive emotions; more joy, optimism, and happiness; and acting with more generosity and compassion.
Always singing praises like the psalmist may not constantly be possible for many of us, but being more mindful of our gratefulness and joys, saying thank you, sharing joy and a smile, keeping a gratitude journal, or other ways that we speak gratitude can help us always sing praises to God.
Thought for the Day: What are you grateful for?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.