Once upon a time…I like stories that begin this way. There was a young lady who had no clue as to what Praise could be. Is it a song you sing in church? Is it when you do something well and almost everyone praises you? This young woman knew what being thankful meant. She was constantly thankful for her husband, her four children, and their mates, and grandchildren. When her great-grandchildren were born, she gave thanks. She wasn’t rich, she wasn’t poor. She had enough. She was content.
Then one day, at the age of 84, she fell into a deep chasm. Old people are supposed to have it altogether, but that one day, she knew she groped in the darkness. She believed in Jesus as her Savior, and it had been easy to be thankful for the many gifts He showered on her. The Dark Day her granddaughter called there was no thankfulness, only questions. Her granddaughter asked if she was sitting down. Answering, ‘yes,’ the granddaughter told the Old Lady that her first-born son was in the hospital with a brain tumor and would undergo surgery in 3 days.
The sun darkened that day, as she cried out to God in pain. Where was the peace and the thankfulness. The day of waiting to hear about the surgery results came. Had her oldest son made it through the surgery? She learned that the night before the surgery, he had had a heart attack. Would God take him home? She remembered his last visit, just three months before, saying goodbye. Was the angst she felt then a time of warning, that she would not see him again? The Old Lady shrugged off the chill around her heart.
What could she do as she waited for the twelve-hour surgery to be completed? She would thank God, no. She would praise Him. How do you praise God at a time like this? She searched her heart for reasons to praise God. She remembered the joy she felt to hold him the first time in her arms. She could praise Him for trusting her to be her oldest son’s mother. The Old Lady could praise God for the moments and minutes of a lifetime watching him grow into manhood and begin a family of his own. That was a beginning.
Praise became a ‘waiting’. A waiting when negative voices interrupted the praise with questions and thoughts. ‘Why didn’t you’ questions came repeatedly, over and over. The Old Lady resolutely returned back to the praise. Finally the day ended and the 12-hour surgery ended. The Old Lady’s son lived.
The Old Lady’s other two sons visited their brother. They sent a picture of the oldest son to their Mother. The Lady cried until finally the sobs subsided. Why? She cried tears of joy to see her son alive. She cried tears of pain to see a visible reminder of what he had endured. She cried tears of compassion to see the peace in his eyes. And then she continued crying, realizing these were ‘tears of praise’ for answered prayer and for deliverance of her son.
Sometimes praising hurts because it comes through a valley of pain, waiting and not knowing. Praise comes through being heart-ready and understanding sacrifice and love with more than the mind, but with the heart, choosing the Who to praise. Praising is made up of trust and hope and faith in the One who defeated death with his resurrection from the dead. The fact that He lives, makes Him worthy of praise.
Praise is an act of our will that flows out of an awe and reverence for our Creator. King David understood this. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, Psalm 48:1. Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, Praise the name of the Lord! Psalm 113:1.
David’s praises became prayers for him and for us, as we read the book of Psalms. Praise is a natural response to God and happens as a result of knowing God. God calls Himself, “I AM.” In Revelation 22:13 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
When we try to replace God’s I AM with our own ‘I am’, our life becomes devoid of meaning, an empty shell without the hope, peace and trust that are ours in Him. ‘Doing life’ on our own, we forget that we are always dependent on God. Without Him we dwell in desert land of want and desire in this world without His living water to sustain us.
Praising God helps restore us to the right relationship in God. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8.
Living a life of praise is an attitude of love and forgiveness and rightness before God. When we commit our lives to Him and praise Him, our faith grows. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4
“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praise; he also is to be feared above all gods.” I Chronicles 16:23-25
Addendum: As The Old Lady writes, she is praying for her oldest son’s second brain surgery. She is giving praise that God’s will be done. And she waits on Him and she finds peace in quietly praising Him.