Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
Maybe you can relate… I have not always responded “well” in the past when experiencing the hard times this life brings. You know… times when everything seems to be going in the worse possible direction and can’t possible get worse…and than it does! Unfortunately, I too often became so consumed by my thoughts of not only what is “horribly” wrong right then…but I would also begin to imagine all the frightful possibilities of what the situation may lead to. I have literarily overwhelmed myself beyond my own ability to cope!
I can recall a few times (too many for me), my sweet husband would attempt to impart some great words of wisdom and encouragement…perhaps even try to hold me and comfort me…crazy guy…but I was too consumed with fear and unrelenting despair to receive it. When I got like this… honestly…I couldn’t even stand myself! I use to tell Brad that “at least you can leave the room…unfortunately; I follow me wherever I go!”
Yikes! I’m so thankful God gave me a husband that loved me when I wasn’t very lovable…and even more I’m thankful that Jesus loves me and promises that He will never leave or forsake me. Jesus is willing to go “wherever I go” and meet my needs in His perfect ways.
Difficulties may not disappear…but we have God’s assurance that He has everything under control. If fact in the midst of trials and difficulties I have learned something I want to share.
I use to pray asking God only for relief from my difficulties and for this relief to come in such a way that seems right to me. I would tell the Lord how I wanted Him to respond and even was willing to give Him some choices! You know…1st choice being the “best” and the last choice is “better than anything else”. If His answer was to be considered a “good one”, than His answer needed to fall within these choices I’d given.
Honestly…I think God was pleased that while I prayed, placing before Him my heartfelt petitions and request that I was seeking Him and His power… believing He is more than able to fulfill my request. But I’ve discovered something new about God’s wisdom and power during an especially difficult period in my life. It was during Brad’s finally months …God was answering my prayers in ways and amid circumstances that I never would have considered “acceptable”. My prayers began to change as I looked to Christ and found He was faithful to carry me on a path that I was too frightened and too weak to walk alone. As my trust increased so did my love and praises for Him grow…thus drawing me into a closer relationship with Jesus giving me the strength and courage to take my first baby steps towards desiring God’s Will above my own.
I discovered in the midst of these great troubles what I really wanted…what I really needed... was to receive all of God’s provisions, wisdom and strength to get me through the storms of this life. Finally…I’m learning that when God does not answer my prayers within the “provided choices”...the Lord will always give me His “best”…by placing in my heart the desire to ask for His deliverance through the storms.
I won’t always “like” God’s answer to my prayers…Brad’s death still seems so “unnecessary”. But I do not doubt that the Lord can be trusted to have a better plan even if I don’t understand it. What peace I have found in trusting God with everything. In the middle of the storms of my life I have found that when I turn my heart to Jesus and my soul speaks words of praise …there is a tremendous resource in these praises which brings healing. The Bible tells us again and again to praise God. Even when we do not feel like praising God, do it anyway and believe in the power of praise. Praise means to worship, exalt, and to honor. In Praising God we also thank Him.
According to Dr. Bill Bright, "Praise is a way of being liberated from the bondage of grief. God inhabits the praise of His people. Praise Him even with your tears, even if your heart is not in tune with what your lips are saying at first. It will not be long until your heart will catch up with praise. "Many, many times during heartache and sorrow, I have praised God with tears streaming down my cheeks because I know that God is a God of love."
"You offer God praise when it hurts," says Joni Erickson Tada, "and it costs you something. It costs your logic; it costs your pride. God then is so much more highly honored because He knows that you deem Him so, having offered such a sacrifice."
Hebrews 13:15 tells us to offer the "sacrifice of praise" to God with lips that thankfully acknowledge, confess, and proclaim the glory of His name.
The Bible says that God dwells in the praises of His people. He lives among praises and is continually surrounded by them. What an incredible way to abide with the Holy God.
Psalm 22:3 (NIV)
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises
“Holy, God, I praise Your name. You alone are worthy to be revered above all things. Thank you for Your daily mercy, love and goodness. I praise Your name! Amen.
Psalm 150:6 (NIV) Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.