We were celebrating my daughter’s second birthday…what a carefree life. Five days prior, we had returned home from my husband’s second brain surgery of the year. He was feeling miserable, so I helped him into the bed. After returning to the party, my mom pulled me aside.
“Your grandpa has been hit by a semi-truck while riding his motorcycle,” she said. “He is alive, but in critical condition. They flew him to a hospital near the accident. I’m sorry.”
Thud. My heart hit the floor. Here we go again. I prayed, claiming trust in God, praising Him that Grandpa was alive…and then I faked a smile and returned to the party.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).
King David wrote those words shortly after being captured by the Philistine army. Imagine the fear he must have felt in those moments. Not knowing what they might do to him, the threat of death looming. And in this moment, what does David do? He takes a moment to praise God. How does one praise or worship God in the midst of so much fear?
As a man with plenty of emotion, David learned how to share his thoughts with God. He brought his terrible times before the Lord and threw them down at his feet. He confessed struggling with God’s plan and yet throughout so many of his psalms he would reach a moment where his desires and limited understanding are surpassed by the greatness of God. The word “yet” typically begins this transition of thought. “Yet I will praise you” or “Yet I trust in you.” In spite of trials or suffering, in those moments he praises the Lord–perhaps this is the key to being “a man after God’s own heart.”
In spite of trials or suffering, in those moments he praises the Lord–perhaps this is the key to being “a man after God’s own heart.”
When trial comes, what is your view? Do you focus on your circumstance, trying to control everything? Do you give mental assent to the Lord that He is in charge and His will reigns, yet moments or hours later try take matters back into your own hands?
In those hard times, like David, we need to offer up praise to God. This praise is not the result of understanding those plans. We are not even expected to agree with His plans. We praise because we realize just how big God is.
We are called to praise throughout the Scriptures and this is not limited to one kind of praise. Singing worship on a Sunday morning is great, but our praise of God should never end there. Praise is not a moment in time. And it’s not a spiritual gift that only a select few participate in. Scripture tells us to “let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). When we praise, we are simply ascribing worth to God. Praise is an attitude of the heart, and should be like a sweet fragrance that oozes from our pores.
Isaiah tells us to “put on a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3). A garment of praise? This imagery suggests that praise is a regular part of our lives. It is something that we put on every day. It is the first thing we do, it is the last thing we do. It covers us, provides warmth, and protects.
Praise is an attitude of the heart, and should be like a sweet fragrance that oozes from our pores.
Praise is also a choice. We can choose to offer up praise or refuse and attempt to do life ourselves. If all we focus on is our circumstances or our next move, we aren’t releasing God to do his will. We don’t hold our lives with open hands. If we live choosing to praise God despite our circumstances or the trials that come our way, if we keep our eyes fixed on God, we can see past the here and now, catching a glimpse of Glory.
After a year of trial in my life, no one would blame me for being depressed or angry at God. Last year, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, undergoing surgeries, radiation, and recovery; my grandpa was hit by a semi-truck while on a motorcycle, and spent three months in the hospital; and my father-in-law’s cancer continues to metastasize as he fights Parkinson’s disease. Those are just the headliners.
I spent time reflecting on the year, and could not figure out why I did not have a negative perspective. The days had seemed long, but the year felt short. Why? And then it hit me. By God’s grace, and with the help of peace that transcends understanding, we kept our eyes fixed on Him. We praised God more this year then any previous “easy” years. We relied on Him more. We gave Him glory for every victory. Our perspective was and is heavenward. If we looked down and tried to place our feet, life was too hard, too emotional, too exhausting. Similar to David, we repeatedly had our “yet” moments. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” While praise does not change our circumstances, it has power over our perspective.
While praise does not change our circumstances, it has power over our perspective.
James 1:2 tells us, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of any kind.” I can tell you we didn’t stand at the face of adversity and thank God for cancer or an accident. However, we praised God for his provision, and because he is bigger than any circumstance we face. We praised our God who walks before us. In praise, we claimed reliance on Him alone, we stood firm in faith, not doubting His will. And through it, we found joy in knowing a God who gave us life after death.
Allow God into your day. Discipline your mind to focus heavenward.
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).
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Image Credit: Nick Harris, Creative Commons