I was oddly encouraged while doing my taxes the other day.
(That’s not a sentence you’ll read too often from people in my tax bracket).
I was getting ready to file my taxes via a popular do-it-yourself website and something seemed amiss. I was expecting to owe thousands of dollars to Uncle Sam, but the software I was using promised a major pay-out. Knowing I should not be entitled to such a windfall, I embarked on one of my favorite pastimes: speaking to customer service representatives from large companies over the phone. The woman was largely pleasant and moderately helpful, but I couldn’t help but chuckle after this awkward exchange:
ME: “I know it says I should get a refund, but I’m telling you, something is wrong. I should actually owe.”
HER: “You should definitely get a refund. I mean, you ONLY MADE _____ thousand dollars last year!”
ME: “Gee thanks…”
Of course she apologized profusely. I wasn’t offended. In fact, I was grateful. I thought to myself, “If you only knew…”
We laughed off the little incident and both went about our business. The numbers were, in fact, incorrect and we resolved the issue. But the Lord brought His faithfulness to my mind through our exchange.
My wife and I have struggled throughout the past five years. If you’ve read this site before or know me well, you’re probably apprised of much of our story. Cancer and infertility came first. Then, just when we were ready to move past the “bad times” and into the good ones, the Lord saw fit to give us the challenge of unemployment, finishing my doctorate degree, parenting an infant, and planting a church all at the same time. There were many dark nights. For a year and a half, I’ve felt like I was just-barely-unsuccessfully treading water. It’s been so hard.
And God used taxes to show me His goodness.
As I poured over the completed return, I realized that God’s doesn’t obey our economics. The lady on the phone was right: it sure didn’t look like I brought in enough money last year. I had to string together several odd jobs and I’ve never worked harder. But God never failed us. Four W2’s and one 1099-MISC showed me that God has a way of taking care of His people, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
In Psalm 105, the writer and worship leader encourages God’s people to proclaim His goodness in the assembly.
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones! (Psalm 105:1–6 ESV)
The author then goes on to recount several scenes wherein God delivered and protected His covenant people throughout the Old Testament. The longest section covers the Exodus (vv. 23–42), where God set His people free from tyranny in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. The psalmist urges the people never to forget God’s faithfulness to His people.
What is the purpose of remembering and recounting all the episodes of God’s faithfulness in our lives? I see three reasons in the psalm.
First, the psalmist wants us to proclaim God’s mighty deeds in order to stimulate His people to worship Him (vv. 1–3).
Second, remembering God’s power and goodness will stimulate His people to “seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually” (v. 4).
Third, the psalm concludes with a purpose clause, “…that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws. Praise the Lord!” (v. 45).
When we publicly proclaim how God has shown His love to us, others will hear our story and glorify God.
When we publicly proclaim God’s faithfulness and provision, others trust Him to meet their needs as well.
When we publicly proclaim the goodness of our God toward us, we remember that He is God and we are not. We will be roused to obey Him and His Word. We will be encouraged to cast our burdens onto the only shoulders that can bear all the weight. We will know that He alone is worthy to be worshiped, honored, adored, and obeyed.
So, here’s my charge to you.
If God has shown you His goodness…if He has met your needs in surprising ways…if He has healed or delivered or protected you when you needed Him most…
…Tell somebody! “Make known His deeds among the peoples.”
Go ahead. List ’em.
Here are a few of God’s deeds in my life lately:
- He forgave my sins (past, present, and future) and has filled me with His Holy Spirit!
- He gave me the best wife on earth to love me and support me even when things look bleak.
- He healed my wife from cancer. This week, she had another CLEAN SCAN!
- He made me a daddy by giving me the sweetest, most loving, and perfect little boy you’ll ever meet.
- He has blessed me with amazing parents, in-laws, and grandparents who love Jesus and help me love Jesus.
- He has surrounded my family and me with an incredible and loving faith family called Gospel Community Church.
- He has trusted me with the opportunity to preach the gospel every week for the salvation and sanctification of the elect.
- He lets my family live in one of the most beautiful places in this country.
- He has provided for our needs in surprising and unconventional ways. We’ve never gone hungry.
- He has opened up a new job at a wonderful company starting next week. In this new job, He is providing me with more hours at home with my wife and son and more time to engage in cross-cultural missions. (More on that in future posts).
- He has filled me with confidence in His goodness and convinced me that I can trust Him even if things don’t add up, make sense, or seem particularly hopeful.
There are a million more to list, but there’s a start.
Now, it’s your turn. What has God done for you? (Feel free to testify in the comments section if you’d like).
You’re probably wondering how my whole tax situation ended up.
I broke even.
God did it.