‘Transformation’ seems to be the word that describes best what has happened in the lives of the writers of the Psalms of Thanksgiving. Often, the psalmist does not reveal how his situation was transformed, only that it was and that it was God who was the agent of this transformation. This being the reason why he then turns from lament to thanksgiving, from the problem to the resolution, from disorientation to new orientation.
Brueggemann suggests that “Israelite praise characteristically comes out of the depths, out of the Pit from which [he/she] is surprised to come, because the situation seemed unresolvable…[and so] the psalm of thanksgiving…is often a lament recited…from the side of resolution, but with the remembered trouble still quite visible…Israel sings songs of new orientation because the God of Israel is the one who hears and answers expressions of disorientation and resolves [these] experiences of disorientation…[they speak of] the intervening action of God to give life in a world where death seems to have the best and strongest way. The songs are not about the ‘natural’ outcome of trouble, but about the decisive transformation made possible by this God who causes new life where none seems possible.” (see references # 2)
I guess most of us who are followers of Jesus have experienced this in our own lives. I remember one such occasion some years ago when one of our students had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her leg. She was from overseas, in her mid 20’s and had only recently married. The staff and other students prayed together and poured out our hearts to God for his healing touch in her life and for him to transform this situation for his glory. It was a particularly powerful and moving time of prayer for her. The next time she went to the doctor there was no sign of the cancer! Certainly, following this, our conversation with God concerning our young friend turned from “mourning into dancing” and thanksgiving. (Psalm 30:11). We were able to say with David, we “will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted [her] out of the depths…[we] called to you for help, and you healed” her. (Psalm 30:1-2) Together we moved from a place of disorientation to new orientation and there was no doubt it was the result of a “decisive transformation made possible by…God who cause[d] new life where none seem[ed] possible.” Hallelujah!