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.”
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.
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.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
We tend to thank God when good things happen…when prayers are answered or people are healed. But what about when things aren’t so good? Can we still find gratitude within pain and sorrow? Can we be like Job, who after losing everything near and dear to him, exclaimed,” The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” Expressing gratitude to God within the storm moves our eyes off the chaos around us and focuses it on above.