How Can I Repay the LORD?

I read about a true story of a doctor named, Chuck, who had cancer. He suffered during treatment. The chemotherapy destroyed his appetite. He could not swallow. He became very thin his kids did not recognize him. Chemo weakened his immune system. But eventually, Chuck completed treatment.

A month later, the cancer was back, the doctor said. The levels were higher than before. Being a doctor himself, he knew that the return of a cancer this strong and quick meant only one thing—death.

Fortunately, he soon found out that someone in the lab made a mistake. Somebody switched his results with that of another patient, who had not even been through treatment. Chuck’s cancer was gone and did not reappear many years later.

Chuck was so grateful that he said, “I’m going to live. . . I’m going to see my kids grow up. I’m going to grow old with my wife. I’m going to live.”

“He was filled with a gratitude he had never known. He couldn’t stop touching his kids or hugging his wife. Things that had bothered him before faded into utter insignificance. He was going to live-and suddenly he . . . experienced the truth that life is a gift.”[1]

We see the same grateful response from the psalmist in Ps. 116. In v. 3, he wrote, “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.” (ESV) This guy was in deep trouble. In v. 11, his problem has something to do with lying and falsehood.

Whatever it was, he cried out to the Lord. He wrote, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4, ESV)! The Lord answered his prayer. Then he responded gratefully with praise to our God. “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:5-7, ESV).

He was filled with gratitude. So he asks the question—“What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me” (v. 12)? The verb, “render” (Heb. shub), means, “bring back” in the hiphil stem. He is really asking himself, “How shall I repay the LORD?” In other words, he is asking how he can best show thanks to God. In grateful response, he puts on himself an obligation to repay the LORD.

That is the question that you and I should ask today. How can I repay the LORD for all His benefits? This question calls for an obligation of grateful reply.

In Ps. 116, we learn three ways that we can repay the LORD.


[1] John Ortberg, Life You’ve Always Wanted (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 64-65.

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