Well it happened yesterday, the Governor of Illinois extended the “Stay at Home Order” for another month. While I’m not surprised, I must admit a groan of disappointment came out of me. What I have especially missed is the meeting together of fellow Believers at Church…and from many conversations with others, I know this is a common feeling. That’s because we are all living stones being built into a Spiritual house called the Church (I Peter 2:5)…but right now the Church as we know it cannot be together…so what do we do? Many weeks ago as I encouraged friends to reach out from their homes using their gifts, talents, and passions, I called it their “Quarantine Ministry” A way of practicing hospitality and works of charity from their homes using what the Lord has given them…their gifts, talents, and passions. And I can only praise God as I watched these friends use what they do well to benefit others! We may be isolating for another 30 days, but that doesn’t mean our acts of generosity should be affected. For God’s work knows no bounds…and helping others is a beautiful act of praising His Name.
Just think…some day we will join in a celebration of praise around the throne of God. We will gather together…a untold throng of humanity from all parts of the world… speaking every language known…yet all together with a common bond. And in a loud voice our praises will rise as one expression of thankfulness and gratitude to our Heavenly Father and to His Son.
The path we follow as Believers is narrow and fraught with potholes…some placed there by the enemy, others we’ve dug ourselves. But no matter how difficult the course, it is the only way to righteousness and life. And as we traverse this path, we will soon discover God’s plan and purpose for us is embedded not in the end result, but in the long and arduous process to get there. For it becomes a daily decision of placing of our hope in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, not in ourselves…of matching our heart’s desires to His not ours. And as we journey along this way, we are reminded to exalt Him in Psalm 145:2 which says, “Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever.”
The Lord reigns over all, and one day He will return to judge the world with justice. (Acts 17:31) And it tells us here that heaven and earth, the sea and fields… even the trees will rejoice at His coming. But they all may be singing already, for in Psalm 65:9 it says, “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly.” And because of God’s wonderful care for the earth, starting in verse 13 of Chapter 65, it says the grasslands of the desert overflow, the hills are clothed with gladness, the meadows are covered with flocks, the valleys are mantled with grain, and they all shout for joy and sing. So just imagine, every crash of waves on the shore, every rustle of leaves or ripe grain in the field could be the earth’s way of praising God…we just don’t know the song.
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?