When we praise the Lord with a heart full of thankfulness…we rise. We rise above our circumstances, we rise above the current pain, and we rise above our negative emotions. But when we just complain to the Lord…we remain. We remain stagnant in the mess around us, and we remain unhappy…wallowing in self-pity. Now that’s not saying we can’t ever complain to the Lord…Jeremiah and Habakkuk did for a few…but in the end they turned their protests into praise. That’s because they looked beyond their griping and grumbling to the bigger picture of gratitude. When we praise, we rise…but when we complain, we remain.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul, rephrases this idea in I Corinthians 8:6, when he writes, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Even though our feeble human minds have a difficult, almost impossible chance of understanding the sheer magnitude of this Scripture…let’s try. Everything has a starting point. But with God, He’s not only the starting point, He existed before the starting point. And so out of Him and only by Him all things were created…both in heaven and here on earth. And the last time I checked, “all” meant everything! So everything you see, hear, feel, smell, or taste came from your Heavenly Father. Why then, wouldn’t we want to give Him honor, praise, and adoration for what He’s done for us?
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.
Everyday we should be celebrating the many blessings from God…for He does things far beyond the bounds of what we think, expect, or can even imagine. Genesis 18:14 goes further to ask, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But I heard an interesting sermon the other day challenging the idea of just what a blessing was. Do we thank God only for the good things we have, and that happen to us. Or do we praise Him also for all the difficult, uncomfortable, and bad things that come into our lives? How do we know that something meant for bad can’t suddenly be turned around by God for good? For what we see as affliction, can become the way to deeper holiness and sanctification in our life…or what appears to be a difficult situation may turn out to be a godsend in the end. This gives new meaning then to the song “Count your many Blessings”…for we need to praise God for everything that comes into our lives…the good, the bad, and the ugly.
You can’t quell the glory of God. In Luke 19 the people had begun joyfully to praise God in loud voices when the Pharisees ordered Jesus to rebuke them. Verse 40 says, “I tell you, He replied, “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Rejoicing in the Lord can not be contained…it must burst forth in worship of our Heavenly Father and what He’s done for us. Just like Jesus couldn’t keep His presence secret in that house, our praise and worship of God can’t be silenced or suppressed either.
Most of us have a very short attention span. So attempting to understand the concept of forever more can be mind-boggling. We can’t stay focused on something for 15 minutes, and this verse tells us to praise the Lord for an indefinite, limitless amount of time! But if we think about forever more in another way…someday we’ll find ourselves in the very Throne Room of God singing in the heavenly choir, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13) …and time won’t matter anymore, for we’ll be in the presence of the Lord.
Having a really bad day? Go outside then, take a deep breath, and look up into the sky. Now celebrate the fact that God’s majesty is on display just for you. Thank Him that He sought you out in your brokenness and worked a miracle in your life. Proclaim to Him again your trust in His son, Jesus Christ. Gaze up into the sky and recognize… that vast expanse above you can not start to contain God’s love for you.