While we don’t know if David would be diagnosed with clinical depression if he were living in our modern day, I think it is fair to say that he went through times in which he suffered a “crisis of joy.” Yet, in the Psalms, David repeatedly reveals the importance of gratitude in the midst of our struggles. “Sacrifice thank offerings to God…” (Psalm 50:14 NIV). He referred to the fact that our gratitude and thankfulness to God is both a sacrifice and an offering. “I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:17 NIV).
It strikes me that the words “sacrifice” and “offering” were both used in conjunction with David’s call to show God our gratitude. These two terms seem to suggest an attitude of the heart.
In all honesty, during my days of greatest suffering, I didn’t tend to be very grateful. Trials and suffering have a way of diverting our attention inward to ourselves. During my most painful, despairing weeks and months, I focused on how I felt, how my situation wasn’t improving, and what I wanted to change in myself or my circumstances. Even when I considered others, it was usually in comparison to my own situation.
Reading these verses shook my introspective framework, which made me sit up and acknowledge the change that was necessary in my own heart and subsequent actions.
Sacrifice meant that I would forego my own needs, wants, habits, and tendencies in favor of another.
Offering meant I would give God the gift of my worship and praise despite my circumstances.
A sacrifice and offering of thanksgiving meant that I must choose to forego my selfish tendency of thinking of myself first, and instead, give focused attention to the greatness and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father as an act of worship.
During those days when I felt defeated and prone to being swallowed up in self-pity, it truly felt like an act of sacrifice and offering to willfully set aside my own aches, needs, and desires while giving God my gratitude for all He had done and would do to provide for me.
When we focus on what we have the opportunity to be thankful for, a subtle shift takes place in our heart and in our mind. The focus moves from ourselves and our own circumstances to God and His generosity, goodness, and faithfulness.