Daily reading: 14 August

The power of gratitude.

Something to read

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favour is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5

Something to think about

Time is a funny thing. When you're bored or unhappy, it just seems to drag, but when you're doing something you love, a couple of hours may pass and you just don't notice. Psychologists actually have a word for this – they call it 'flow'!

David was certainly acquainted with the former experience – he'd known 'weeping' during his period of suffering and no doubt it felt at the time as if it would never end! But God's later intervention gave him a very different perspective – verse 5 is written from this vantage point.

The word for 'tarry' (verse 5) is elsewhere used of an overnight visitor, who may arrive for the night, but would depart again very soon, in the morning. When we are surrounded by fear and pressure, we often feel that God is far away and that no good will come of our experience.

But David's words in verse 5 show that the scales are, in fact, tipped in the opposite direction for someone who trusts God. Here's the comparison: how long is a 'moment'? Let's say, one second. And how long is a 'lifetime'? Eighty-five years perhaps – which contains 2.7 billion seconds!

So the difference between a 'moment' of suffering and a 'lifetime' of God's favour is huge! The apostle Paul tells us that 'this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison' (2 Corinthians 4:17).

It's no coincidence that the words of verse 4 precede those of verse 5, since the conviction throughout the Bible and church history is that those who look upwards and outwards to God, away from their self-focus, as they give thanks and worship to God, find that their whole perspective begins to change.

Researchers today have found that people who express gratitude daily are happier and healthier than those who do not. A person's perspective is influenced powerfully by their orientation and direction.

What is your current experience? Are you experiencing 'weeping'? Take heart by reading verses 4 and 5. Offer your experiences back to God – as someone has put it, 'don't waste your sorrows'!

Something to do

Write a 'gratitude journal' for a week or two. At the end of each day, record three things for which you are grateful that have happened to you that day. They can be apparently trivial (the sun shone through the clouds in the afternoon), more significant (the baby slept all through the night yesterday after a troubling few weeks), or profound (a major breakthrough in Mum's health).

Whatever they were, write them out, with a word at the end as to why you are grateful. At the end of the period, reflect some more on those good things, and spend some time expressing your thanks and appreciation to God, perhaps with someone else.

Something to pray

Thank you Lord that even when it feels to me as if you are a million miles away, you are in fact very near. I find the pain of suffering so hard and I wish I didn't have to experience it. But I take heart in the promise of verse 5, that although I may be weeping now, there will soon come a time when joy will 'come with the morning'. Please bring that joy to me now, even in the dark moments of my life. Amen.

Today's contributor is Andy Parnham, Pastor of Brockley Community Church, London.