“Praise is the switch that turns on the light of joy in our lives even when its dark outside.”—Anne Graham Lotz
Today has been a very rough day…more disappointments, more struggles, more questions about why things happen as they do…not only in my life, but in the lives of those I love.
It is ironic that my subject for this post today was praise.
Then again, it’s actually perfect…because it is so easy to praise when the sun is shining…but to do so during the rough times is often a sheer act of the will.
As Anne Graham Lotz writes: “The highest form of genuine praise is not necessarily a sentimental feeling with tears streaming down your cheeks…genuine praise is the gut-wrenching affirmation of faith uttered in the darkness of desperation as you cling to Him alone.” Pursuing More Of Jesus pp. 52-52
Praise is one of the most powerful weapons we have.
Psalm 22:3 declares that the Lord is enthroned by our praises.
So, when troubles come, we have a choice: will we choose to enthrone our problems in our hearts…or will we enthrone Jesus?
I can rehearse my problems…which dims His light in my life and drags me deeper into the darkness of self-absorption….or I can recount the multi-faceted wonders of my Savior and His great and precious promises to me.
When Jesus has me on a wild ride and He takes a detour that I had not anticipated—nor wanted—I have learned to soak myself in a particular Scripture that gives me great encouragement. This verse refers to Abraham and his astonishing faith.
God had promised Abraham that He would make him the father of multitudes. There was only one small problem…Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was in her 90s. Abraham could have easily only focused on the impossibility of his circumstances. Twenty-five years had passed since God gave him that promise. He could have given in to despair…yet he did not allow himself to go down that road. Instead, Scripture tells us what he did:
No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) the promises of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His Word and do what He had promised.”–Romans 4:20-21 (Amplified Version).
Abraham had no reason for human hope. Sometimes, neither do we. However, Abraham’s hope was not in other humans or improved circumstances. His hope was in his God. He had two anchors for his faith: 1)the goodness, power, and trustworthiness of his God; and 2) the reliability of God’s promises.
The same things are available to me. So, when I feel shaken, I can reach for this Scripture and say, ” Lord, I will not permit myself to operate in unbelief. In Your strength, I will not waver in my determination to trust in You and Your promises. I will not doubt You or question Your goodness.”
That is the first shot fired at the enemy as he seeks to fill me with fear and knock me off balance.
Then comes the knockout punch as I follow Abraham’s lead. Notice what the above verse says gave Abraham strength and power despite his dispiriting circumstances: PRAISE.
The enemy cannot abide listening to God receive praise. It is the best way to get rid of him and his incessant taunts and lies. I like how Tony Evans puts it in his book The Battle Is The Lord’s: ” How do we get some R & R from Satan? By praising God. In fact, the stronger the opposition, the more you need to praise God in the midst of your opposition. Satan can’t handle praise. He is allergic to worship. He has to flee, because when we praise God, He shows up to enjoy our praises. And Satan cannot abide the presence of God. So if your adversary is opposing you hard right now, it’s time to praise! When we praise, we resist Satan’s opposition.” (James 4:7), p. 181
I have learned to begin listing (usually out loud if I can) all the beautiful attributes of Jesus. I praise Him for all that He has done for me in the past and promises to do in the future. I praise Him for the incredible gift of His Word. There are times when I just open the Psalms and make the psalmist heartfelt praises my own. And I always thank Him for saving me, for writing my name in the Book of Life. Truth be told, if He never did anything else for me but save me from the hell of eternal separation from Him, that is enough.
Sometimes, all I can do is whisper His Name over and over again.
Without fail, praising calms my heart, as Jesus draws near and reminds me that He is in full control, regardless of what I see. Praising Him draws me out of myself and into His heart. It reminds me that this life is not about me…it is only and always ultimately about Him. (Colossians 1:15-17)
Praise reminds me that He is able! :
*to bless you abundantly so that in all things, at all times you have all you need (2 Corinthians 9:8)
*to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)
*to guard what you have entrusted to Him (2 T imothy 1:12)
*to help you when you are tempted (Hebrews 2:18)
*to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 1:24)
What can you praise Him for today…even in the midst of your trials?
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…(James 4:8)