I will praise the name of God with a song
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
What does it mean to magnify something? Basically, it means to make it bigger, right? If the letters on a page are too small for me to read, I can put on my bifocals, and look through the magnifying section, and then I can read it just fine. Back when my kids were young, we loved to take nature walks and look through a magnifying glass at leaves, bugs, and almost anything that sparked our interest. The only way to make something look physically bigger is to change your visual perspective by getting closer to it or looking at it through a magnifying lens.
Sometimes, we need God to look bigger than the way we’ve been seeing him. Of course, God is God, and He is always big, no matter what our spiritual perspective may be. But every now and then, we may find that we have made God small in our hearts. Perhaps we have been caught up in trying to please people. Maybe we’ve become consumed with a trial for a long time, and have been so focused on that trial that our image of God has shrunk without our even realizing it. Maybe we’re disappointed in God for not doing what we thought He should do, and so we have justified making him small in our mind.
When we recognize this problem, we may try to fix it by going to church more, or reading the Bible more, or meditating on the attributes of God. These are all very good things to do, but when I read this Psalm this morning, it struck me that there is one sure way to magnify God, both in our own hearts and in the world: With thanksgiving! Regardless of the trial, if the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts, there will always be a spark of gratitude. A verse like this one is a puff of air on that spark, to fan that flame that will make God big again.
How does thankfulness magnify God? I’ll answer that question with another one: When we express gratitude, to whom are we expressing it? To God, of course! That very fact makes gratitude a reminder of the goodness and love of God in our lives. As we are continually thanking Him throughout the day, those reminders build a bigger and bigger picture of God, and soon our perspective is restored: God is big again, and problems are smaller.
When others hear us thanking God for His goodness, He is magnified in the world. Do you ever respond with, “Praise the Lord!” when someone tells you of some good news they’ve just heard? These three little words turn our thoughts immediately from our circumstances to the God and Sovereign Ruler of those circumstances. Even unbelievers will usually express agreement with that statement, and this is an opportunity to make God big in their eyes, too.
Finally, God is magnified by the renewing of our minds. To renew your mind means to think differently about your circumstances, your life, and your very soul. It means changing your mindset from a self- or circumstance-oriented one to a God- and others-oriented one. When we express our thanksgiving to God, it takes our mind off of ourselves and our problems, and puts it onto God, His goodness, His mercy, and His blessings. When we are thinking of these things, God is bigger, and our prideful hearts are brought down to size.
As we draw near to God through thanksgiving, we can see Him more clearly. As we continue to nurture a heart of gratitude, the magnification increases, and we see the truth of His love, His mercy, and His grace. Soon, He is so big that our troubles are swallowed up in the comfort of His love, and what do we do? We praise Him and thank Him more! Hallelujah! What a big God! What a Savior!