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Monday, October 17, 2011

Growing Through Praise

It is so easy to praise God when everything is going well. It doesn't take much maturity at all to remember to praise and thank God when things are going right.  It's nothing short of common courtesy, really.

The tough times are another thing entirely.  It doesn't seem like there is anything to thank and praise God for, when we are suffering under oppression, persecution, and fear.  However, praise is not an option in those times, either.  It is a necessary part of growth in our relationship with God.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 113, declared at the beginning, "Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore," (Psalm 113: 2 NIV).  He didn't say, "Praise God when times are good."  He said to praise God constantly, starting now.  He then went on to elaborate, "From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised," (Psalm 113: 3 NIV).  We are to praise God all day long, coast to coast, nation to nation, and in every stage of darkness and light in our lives.

The psalmist outlined two good reasons for doing this: (1) God is sovereign and ruler of us, overseeing everything and more powerful and worthy of praise than anything in creation (vs. 4-6); (2) God can easily and miraculously fix all of our problems, from poverty to barrenness (vs. 7-9).  This means that God is praiseworthy because He is God, but more so, because He is supremely good.

It is a lie to think that God is being unkind to us when hard times come, or that He is no longer worthy of praise.  Our perspective may be skewed by our circumstances, but God is never changed.  We must always remember that our God looks down on everything; He is never overcome by troubles or blinded from watching our daily lives.  Unlike imagined gods in the world, the sovereign God sees us and is moved to kindness by our hard times.  He is moved to protect us, to lead us, to bless us, to rescue us.  He doesn't just see, but He acts, and His every reaction is righteous.  This righteous quality is eternally praiseworthy!

This realization, I believe, is what gave the early Christians occasion to praise God, even when they were chained in prison, awaiting death (Acts 16:25).  They weren't seeing God's action at that moment, yet they demonstrated an unshaken faith in the character of God that sees beyond circumstances.  God is praiseworthy in His character at all times.  They were praising God because of who He is.  Their eyes were focused on Him, not on their own circumstances.  Because of their faith, and because of His plans, He delivered them--but that is almost beside the point.

An immature faith is still largely focused on ourselves, and what we feel we need to get from this relationship. It takes a mature faith to look beyond circumstances and focus on the reality of who God is, and praise Him for that.  Can we have eyes for God, and not just for our needs?  That is the challenge for today.

2 comments:

Sumedha said...

No matter what we are going through God is still God...
Thank you, this post is very encouraging!!!!

Rachel M. said...

I am glad that God used me to encourage you. :)

Thanks for the comment, Sumedha!

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