Oh magnify the Lord with me... Psalm 34:3
I've been learning a lot about thanksgiving lately in my personal Bible study. I'm doing a word search on it. My search has led me to verses like this:
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. - Psalm 69:30
When we give thanks, we magnify God.
Magnify - to extol. But also, to increase the apparent size of. When we magnify God, we do not increase Him; He already fills the whole earth. When we magnify God, we increase our ability to see Him.
I have a thing for magnifying glasses. I collect them. And those paperweights that magnify whatever picture is glued to the bottom. I am fascinated with them. I also increasingly need to use them, as I am growing older and can't thread a needle or read fine print on how to set my watch.
My boys loved magnifying glasses. They could spend endless hours scrutinizing leaves and bugs and the innards of disassembled TV remotes.
I can find myself hunched over my circumstances, examining every inch of my emotional innards, until my vision is so blurry I cannot see straight.
I can magnify my circumstances, or I can magnify God.
I see this choice played out in scripture. From the belly of the fish, Jonah says, "With a voice of thanksgiving, I will sacrifice to you," and cries out, "Salvation belongs to the LORD!"
David declares the same thing in Psalm 3, and when? Fleeing from Absolam, his own son bent on killing him.
John sees the believers gathered around the throne, crying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" in Revelation, his great letter to the persecuted church, in the death grip of Rome.
And Mary cries out, as she enters the fiery trial of bearing the Messiah, "My soul magnifies the Lord!" She doesn't make much of the implications of being an unwed mother, of explaining it to Joseph, of hoping anyone believes in virgin birth or the coming of the Christ. She may not understand yet that a sword will pierce her own heart, that her son will be sacrificed. She magnifies the God who has come to save His people, just as He promised—who will save her.
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God! - Psalm 50:23
I am not enduring any fiery trials right now. But I have some friends who are. My heart is heavy for several friends who are in the belly of the Red Devil, that poisonous chemo that is the only hope the world offers to save them from the cancer that threatens to kill them. When I think of them, I am overwhelmed by their mouth sores and hair loss and weak bodies. One said, "My esophagus hurts to exist."
How can I pray for them? I feel helpless. I can go over their list of woes, worrying before God, who already knows. And I do this sometimes. Or I can magnify the God who is their only salvation. Giving thanks from the belly of the whale may sound like I don't appreciate the magnitude of their circumstances. Quite the contrary. But I, and they, need to appreciate more the magnitude of our God.