Don’t you suspect the writer of Psalm 118 was old? Old people are just better at some things. We know how to read analog clocks, polish shoes, iron shirts, manage money, and spell correctly. We can sew on a button and multiply without a calculator. We know the number of feet in a yard. Old people are better at using words like “extol.”
When we are young, we want to accomplish great things. We work to impress and strive to achieve. We long for success and try to look good. This drive to realize our potential is a gift of God.
But by the time we are old—if we do it right—we learn to value other gifts of God. We figure out that we look about as good as we are ever going to look. Employers do not return the calls of people our age. (They’re probably confused that we’re calling and not texting.) Our focus shifts from doing to being. We move from achieving to appreciating. We plan less and trust more.
The psalmist sings, I will give thanks to you, you are my God, I will extol you (v. 28), then calls us to praise, exalt, admire, adore, and worship God too. This may be easier for old people.
Giving thanks for God’s steadfast love is simpler when we can look beyond ourselves to the goodness that surrounds us. The best response to the Light that encircles us is an old response: extol God, giving ourselves to gratitude that is bigger than anything we can accomplish.
What keeps you from being thankful in a way that does not ask, “What’s in it for me?”
God, help us to find our way to gratitude that is not self-serving, but is a genuine response to your steadfast love. Amen.