Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
I have seen statements that God must be some kind of egomaniac to require that mankind praise Him, but this verse expresses the simple truth. God doesn’t tell us to praise Him for His benefit, but for ours. When we praise God it realigns our perspective and enables us to rise above the various troubles that are part of life on this fallen planet. (John 16:33) This truth has been active since the dawn of history, but mankind has gone through periods of forgetting it. God in His mercy has brought us back to it again and again, but even when it is active in the Church, we still tend to forget it on a personal level. Someone who actively, consciously, thanks and praises God daily is going to be one of the happiest people around, regardless of what they are going through. There are countless tales of people who have gone through great tragedy and come out with peace and joy that is the wonder and envy of those who know them. That’s why Paul tells us so clearly, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-20) And, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) The way to “be joyful always” is to thank and praise God! Far from being an egotist, God desires the very best for us His children, and praising Him is an essential part of receiving that.
I was raised in a family that loved to sing hymns, but the area of praise was really opened up to me with the Charismatic Movement in the ’70s. Then when I personally opened myself up in faith to being baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit, praise took on a new dimension. Even so, I still forget to thank and praise God at times, allowing the enemy to distract me with merely physical circumstances. It wasn’t easy to praise God in the recovery room after my recent hernia surgery, and I didn’t do so out loud, but I found that I could indeed do it in my heart and mind, particularly “singing” songs mentally, and it was a huge help. I have made a practice of trying to praise God in my own pain, either physical or emotional, but it gets more complicated when I am dealing with pain in others. I don’t want them to feel I am making light of their pain, because I’m not, but I am completely convinced that God is the answer to it all, and He is more than worthy of our praise. I have botched that several times, offending people and making them feel I had no empathy at all. I do need to weep with those who weep! (Romans 12:15) However, I want to teach them to praise God through the tears. When Jesus made His famous statement about troubles and rejoicing in John 16:33 he was about to be arrested, beaten, scourged, and crucified. That’s not something anybody wants to go through, and He certainly didn’t, as His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane made very clear. (Matthew 26:38-39) I am not to insist that anyone praise God, but I am always to speak the truth in love, and it is manifestly true that thanking and praising God lifts us above our circumstances.
Father, thank You for this reminder. We’ve been the brunt of quite a few attacks recently, on our bodies and on our finances. Help me remember to thank and praise You whatever is going on, trusting You fully and letting You be Lord, so that Your purposes in allowing whatever it might be to be fulfilled, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!