It is easy to praise God when the sun is shining, our children are making good grades in school, and we have received a promotion at work. But when the storm clouds gather, the grades start to slip, and the pink slips are read, the last thing we feel like doing is praising God. Yet, this is the very time when we need to lift our voices to Him in praise.
When we praise God, we proclaim our faith in Him. The psalmist writes, “As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure” (Psalm 71:14-15).
A sacrifice of praise is something that we offer to God — in times of well being and in times of sorrow. Never allow praise to become a habit or a trite activity. It is a priceless honor to kneel before the throne of our Lord and Savior.
One of the greatest misconceptions concerning praise is that it is something we do for God. However, nothing could be further from the truth. God does not need our praise, but certainly, He desires it. He knows when life takes an unexpected turn toward sorrow or when a serious illness lingers for months and even years, praise has the ability to lighten our hearts and fill us with a sense of love and security that can only come from one place — heaven’s throne.
Praise teaches us to be joyful and thankful regardless of our circumstances. It prepares us for God’s service and helps us to see beyond our present circumstances to the immense possibilities that are ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
No matter how deep our sorrow or how grave our circumstances may seem, we can learn to praise God while acknowledging His sovereignty over our lives. A.B. Simpson wrote, “Lift up the hands that hang down. March straight through the flood, and lo, the waters will divide, the Red Sea will open, the Jordan will part, and the Lord will lead you through to victory.”
This sounds like good advice, but what do you do when life becomes so dark that it seems impossible to praise God? How do you lift your voice to the Lord in praise when your husband has left you or your daughter has terminal cancer? How do you praise God when you have just received word that your loved one has met a sudden death?
You begin by realizing that praise is a sacrifice — an offering to the Lord. It does not lesson our sorrow or, in many cases, change our immediate circumstances. It will, however, bring light to our darkness — a light that Satan cannot extinguish.
Joy and Praise Provide Fresh Strength
Nehemiah wrote, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Praise teaches us to turn our eyes away from circumstances to the One who has the ability to heal, save, renew, and mend every broken heart.
There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is something we experience for a moment and is often short lived. Joy is eternal. It comes only as a result of living a life of praise. Praise comes as a result of a heart that is overflowing with joy that may even come in lonely moments. Suddenly, you find yourself being comforted by the One who created you and who understands your grief and sorrow. You may feel as though you cannot praise God but if you will just take a step toward praise, you will sense God’s arms surrounding you.
Your praise can be as simple as this: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.” Let praise steady your heart when trouble comes and gain God’s perspective on your current situation. Take time to thank God for what He has done for you. He has saved you and given you an opportunity to know and love Him. Remember He loves you with an unconditional love and will not withhold His love from you.
Our deepest gratitude, honor, and glory belong to the Lord. Praise Him for He is worthy to be praised! (Psalm 18:3)
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.