How many hours will it be before you sit back in your chair in your dining room or at the restaurant and say to yourself or to everyone else who has gathered around you, “I am really full!” Whether tomorrow you are by yourself or whether you have the opportunity to gather with many of the people you love and treasure, and whether tomorrow you do not have a feast to enjoy or you do have the opportunity to fill your stomach with many delicacies that delight you, I pray that all of you will treasure the feast which is being served up to us this evening from Psalm 103 and join King David of old in sitting back in your pew and being able to say to all of God’s people who are with you tonight, “I am really full!” David said it this way when he reflected on all the good things the Lord had provided in his life: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
It is not super complicated to figure out what some of the benefits are with which God has filled us. We could probably just summarize them very simply by saying we are full of blessings. That’s basically what King David is saying in those opening verses. Let’s see how David summarizes this fullness of blessings in verses 3-4 and apply that to our reason for Thanksgiving today and always. Verse 3: “Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”
God crowns us, David said. King David knew a lot about crowns since he wore one. But he knew that the greatest crown to be most cherished was the crown of God’s love and compassion. And, David says, that is the crown that God has crowned you and me with – his love and compassion. Think about that for a moment. If you have a crown, that means you are a king to God. You are a queen to God. Many of you children out there know what that means very well. Every once in a while you can tell which of the little ones has a birthday that day because they are walking around the hallways wearing a crown. They have been crowned with special attention and privileges like getting to lead the class out to recess because that was the day a few years earlier God chose to bring them into his world, something that truly crowned the lives of their parents with love and compassion. There is no doubt that those kids wearing the crowns are happy and thankful, because you can see it by their smiles and by the way they walk around excited to hand out the treats their parents may have sent to share with their classmates and teachers.
Why does God say that all of us can feel like kings and queens every day of our lives? He says we can feel that way because of how God our Lord feels about us. God has such a feeling of love and compassion toward us, King David says, that he forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, and redeems our life from the pit. Let’s start with the “heals all our diseases.” How can God say he heals all our diseases, when not all our diseases get healed? We cry with one another and we pray for one another precisely because we feel such love and compassion for people we know very well or maybe don’t know so well who have been called upon to endure many earthly hurts and heartaches and disasters and diseases.
Thankfully God does heal those diseases. For one thing, there are many things that don’t happen to us, right? There are many days that we are not sick, many diseases and ailments and pains that we have not gone through, many hospital stays we have not had to endure, many insurance questions we have not had to ask. Those are things to be thankful for that are maybe the easiest not to think about – the things that haven’t happened to us.
And then there are the many times when we have been called upon to endure a cold or the flu or a broken bone or an illness or heart problems or a debilitating condition or cancer – and God has provided total healing from it or the kinds of medications that allow us to live with it. Those, too, are wonderful reasons for which to thank God. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people who have been healed of an illness or have fully recovered after therapy have said they will never take their health for granted again.
But then there indeed are those times when God has decided not to let someone’s disease be healed, something that to some degree has affected – or will affect — every single one of us here tonight. Is God telling the truth in Psalm 103 when he says that he heals all our diseases? This is such an important question, because it is the same question we can ask about so many promises from God’s Word that don’t seem to come true on earth. Well, if something doesn’t get healed on earth, where will it get healed? Have you ever had the conversation with someone – have you yourself ever had that conversation with God – where someone says, “I can’t wait till I get to heaven, because when I get to heaven I will be healed. When I get to heaven I won’t have this pain any more. That’s because when I get to heaven I will know how true it is that God heals all my diseases.” “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” He does heal all my diseases – and everything else in my life. I am really full!
But wearing a crown of God’s compassion and knowing the certainty of God’s healing are just the appetizers. The main dish is served by King David when he assures us that the one who crowns us with his love and heals all our diseases with his power is the one who forgives all our sins. If you and I did not know that, any comments about us being kings or queens would be pretty lame attempts to make us feel better when we feel miserable. If you and I did not know that, any comments about all our diseases being healed in heaven would be pretty sick attempts to sweet talk us into not complaining about how bad we feel when we are ill on earth.
You and I know very well that our many sins, such as the sins of not being thankful and grateful for all we have – our sins of being greedy and covetous because we think we should have more – our sins of jealousy and anger because of how much we think others have – that all those sins against the one who is the true King should cause our God not to redeem us from what King David calls the“pit” of hell, but should instead lead him to give us a life that is totally the pits right now and an eternity where no disease would ever be healed, but would last forever as the disease of a death that never ends.
But thankfully we also know very well that Jesus himself went to that pit, and Jesus himself suffered everything that the master of that pit could throw at him, and by so doing Jesus emptied that pit of any power to bring us down to it. “The Lord,” King David says in that last verse – verse 6 – “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” It is an amazing thing, isn’t it, that God should let us know when we feel oppressed and burdened and misused, that he does something for us who are the ones who have oppressed and burdened and misused him! He works “righteousness and justice for us” – righteousness – the holiness of Jesus – and “justice” – the judgment of “you are forgiven and totally innocent because of Jesus.” We who do the misusing of God and think so often that we are misused by God are the ones are forgiven by God and desired to be used for his service. That’s just a “turkey with all the trimmings” way of saying what is the meat and potatoes of our faith: For the sake of Jesus Christ, the God who made us all forgives us all. God forgives all our sins, and he lets us gorge ourselves on that comfort not just on Thanksgiving Day but on every day, meaning that every single time we think of how great Jesus is to forgive us and to forgive us and to forgive us once again with more second and third helpings than we can possibly imagine, we can say, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” “I am really full.”
But there still is one more thing that God fills us with that I think many of us can appreciate and relate to when we think of a big Thanksgiving meal – and that is energy. Through Christ, because we are full of blessings we are also full of energy. One custom our family has tried to carry on after eating a big meal is going for at least a little walk afterwards. Sometimes understandably that is not so easy to do because eating a large meal in the middle of the day, coupled with sitting or lying on the couch at a time that is not normally done, can make you feel awfully lethargic and lacking energy, to say the least. Spiritually speaking, however, that will never happen to you, no matter how much of God’s love and compassion you fill yourselves with. That’s the comfort of verse 5 near the end:“who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Tomorrow after a big brunch or a big dinner or a big supper or a big all three, you may not feel like you have the ability or the energy to soar like an eagle, but when you fill yourselves with the tasty treats of God’s Word like the message of Psalm 103, you will be just the opposite of weighed down. No matter your age, no matter your difficulties, no matter your sins – through Christ Jesus you have been renewed, you have been refreshed, you have been revitalized, you have been redeemed, you have been restored. You have been given the spiritual energy to go forward and to serve your dear Lord wherever you are at this most moment in your life, and you have been given the confidence that no matter how many times you thank God with all your heart from the bottom of your heart and tell him, “I am really full,” with God there is always room for more. For your dear Lord God will never get tired of hearing your praise and your dear Lord God will never get tired of giving you reason after reason to give it. So, praise the Lord, all you souls. Praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, all you souls. And forget not all his benefits. You truly are really full! God bless your Thanksgiving in every way.