Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done. Psalm 105:1

In the sixteenth chapter of 1 Chronicles, a worship service is taking place. The people of God are celebrating the return of the Ark of the Covenant, the emblem of God’s presence and glory, to Jerusalem. On this historic day, after the animal sacrifices and a pre-worship buffet of bread, meat and raisin cakes, the people get down to the business of praising God. King David appoints some musical types to strike up the music—harps, lyres, cymbals and trumpets. Then Asaph, the worship leader, steps to the platform. What proceeds from his mouth is a hymn, written especially for this occasion by David himself, the “sweet shepherd” of Israel—a song that’s also in the pages of Israel’s hymnbook as portions of Psalms 105, 96 and 106.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done. (Psalm 105:1)

At the center of the people’s praise on this momentous occasion are the twin themes of memory and gratitude. These worshipers recap for one another God’s goodness, poured out on them again and again throughout their history:

Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
you children of his servant Abraham,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones. (Psalm 105:5-6)

All through the Old Testament God calls the people of Israel to remember what God has done for them. Why? For one thing, they have a stunning aptitude for corporate amnesia—as their forty-year gripe session in the wilderness demonstrated so many years before. But mostly I think it’s because Yahweh, who loves them and wants the best for them, is helping them all along the way to discover this truth—a truth that will heal us as well: gratitude extracts the poison from adversity.

There are numberless ways of remembering God’s provision and care. Many congregations today make it a regular practice to include “God stories” in worship—personal accounts of God’s mighty acts. Some people keep an ongoing list of answered prayers. I have friends who capture meaningful moments of growth or insight with a photograph, poem, or painting. The important thing is not what we use as reminders, but simply that we remember God’s goodness in our lives.

So today I invite you to break out your camera, pen, paintbrush, saxophone, or whatever’s handy, and do this: Remember the wonders God has performed . . . you children of God’s servant Abraham, you descendants of Jacob, God’s chosen ones.

Julie Pennington-Russell is a much-loved preacher, pastor, and mentor. She has pastored three Baptist churches, has mentored too-many-to-count young ministers, and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.