At Thanksgiving, Be Sure to Sing!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psalm 107:1).

I enjoy music – all kinds of music. Music is the language of the soul. It poetically expresses our deepest longings. Music is the heart of celebration. At a Friday night high school football game the band plays the fight song and the people cheer. On Independence Day bands play patriotic music throughout the country. Who can listen to the Boston Pops play Stars and Stripes Forever and not celebrate? On Easter Sunday, churches throughout the world sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today or He Lives! Of course, the season that has inspired some of the world greatest music is Christmas. From Handel’s Messiah, to Joy to the World, to Jingle Bells the world sings and proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ.

So, what about Thanksgiving? As we gather to worship and fellowship around the table, what songs come to mind? Many of the Psalms are songs of thanksgiving and they tell of the many blessings of God for which we should be thankful. So what will we sing on Thanksgiving day?

(*I have linked songs to YouTube so you can take time to listen.)

God guides those who have lost their way (Psalm 107:4-9). Because of stubbornness and unbelief the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  But God was always present to guide their way. There are many songs that celebrate the God’s guidance in our lives.  One of my favorites from childhood is the old hymn Jesus, Hold My Hand.

As I travel thru this pilgrim land there is a Friend who walks with me, Leads me safely thro’ the sinking sand, It is the Christ of Calvary; This would be my prayer, Dear Lord, each day to help me do the best I can, For I need Thy light to guide me day and night, Blessed Jesus hold my hand.

God liberates those who are imprisoned by sin (Psalm 107:10-16). The fulness of human sin has dire consequences. The story of the demoniac of the Gerasanes (Mark 5) is a horrific example of the destructive power of sin and evil.  But it is also a glorious example of the power of Christ to liberate and transform. Christ restored the demoniac to his right mind.

This may surprise you, but one of the most powerful songs of redemption (in my opinion) will not be found in a hymnal or heard on Christian radio.  Into My Life was performed by Three Dog Night in 1973. It’s a song of regret, confession, and a cry for help.

Gotta bring the Lord in my life, Gotta bring the Lord back in my life. I’ve seen the truth Through the bottom of a shot glass of vermouth. But that’s not the way the Lord intended it. Messing up my life the way I’m spending it. Blind to the way to stop the sin in me. Um, can’t see the good the Lord is giving me. So take the blame off me and let me go. The Lord made fools like me to tell them so.

God heals those who are diseased and afflicted (Psalm 107:17-22). The Gospels are full of accounts in which Jesus healed the sick and even raised the dead. One of my favorite accounts is the cleansing of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). This story reminds us that we should never fail to be grateful for God’s saving acts.

A few years ago, Andrae Crouch wrote and sang a wonderful song of thanksgiving. In Take a Little Time Andrae gives his testimony of God’s healing grace and offers a song of thanksgiving.

What the Lord means to you, maybe I can’t see. But this one thing I know, the man is everything to me, Yes he is. I remember the time when a job for me was so hard to find. Still the Lord made a way for me just in the nick of time. I remember when I was sick and my doctor said I wouldn’t get well. Oh, but the Lord touched my body, and right now I’m able to tell. That’s why I’m sayin, “I just want, I just want to take a little time right now and say ‘Thank you, Lord, for all you’ve done for me…'”

God saves those who are caught in the midst of great storms (Psalm 107:24-32). There are a few stories in the Bible that demonstrate this: Jonah and Peter come to mind. But these men were caught in storms of their own making. And while God graciously saves us from these self made storms, it is the storms that that come our way unexpectedly that most often challenge our faith. Here, I am reminded of the times when the disciples were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus as asleep in the boat (Mark 4:35-31). In the midst of the storm the disciples cried out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” When we are caught in the midst of the many storms of life we are often tempted to believe that God does not care.

There are many wonderful songs that express God’s protection in the midst of storms. The song I hear most often in my storms is It is Well with My Soul. Written by Horatio Spafford, it is a stirring testimony of faith that endures in-spite of life’s many tragedies. Spafford lost his four year old son in 1871; lost his fortune in the great Chicago fire; and in 1873 his four daughters perished at sea while traveling to Europe. His song of faith and thanksgiving states:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, It is well, it is well, with my soul.

As we gather to celebrate on Thanksgiving Day, don’t forget to sing!