Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
I was quite torn in deciding what to write on. The 10 verses of today’s selection are incredibly rich, bringing to mind Psalms, Proverbs, or Isaiah. This doesn’t necessarily match my image of Jeremiah! That’s all the more reason to know that the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible, speaking and acting through many different human beings. This particular verse is an excellent faith declaration for any believer. At its root it is a statement of dependence and trust. The last line is an important part of it. We need not only to acknowledge that God is the One to whom all praise is due, we also need to be consistent in giving Him that praise. I have seen a Monty Python sketch that said that God is an insecure megalomaniac, requiring man to praise Him. It was intended as humor, but it betrays a tragic misunderstanding of God, one that is eagerly promoted by the devil. God doesn’t tell us to praise Him because He needs it, any more than He tells us to tithe because He’s short of funds. He tells us to do these things because we need them, to keep our focus on Him and rescue us from the traps of the devil. Praising God reminds us that He is our Healer and our Savior, as the first part of the verse says. On top of that, it feels really good to praise God! Praising Him lifts our eyes off of the junk we’re going through and renews our hope in His solution to it all. As Revelation tells us, heaven is filled with His praise, not for His sake but for the eternal blessing of those who live there with Him.
Growing up in a family that was both dedicated to God and quite musical, some of my earliest and happiest memories are of singing hymns together as a family. As a result, I could read the music before I could read the words! I still have a deep love for many of the old hymns of faith. However, it wasn’t until I was exposed to the Charismatic Movement, from around 1973, that I started getting more of a grasp of what it is to praise God, and why I needed to do it. So many church services I had attended seemed to sing a couple of hymns more out of obligation than anything else, not even singing all of the verses, no matter how rich the lyrics. It is somewhat ironic that it took simple little choruses to teach me to praise God! In this church now we sing a mix of hymns, choruses, and songs that perhaps come in between those categories, six or seven in every service. Because we do everything bilingually, if a song only exists in one language I translate it into the other, having done over a hundred in each direction with English and Japanese. Sometimes English hymns exist in very archaic Japanese translations, and I have re-translated them to make them more accessible to people today. It is a deep joy to be able to do that, to share the blessing of praising God in song with others. However, I must not limit my praise to singing! My regular conversation should always point people to God and give Him the credit, the glory, for all that He has done and is doing. I know from experience that the more I do that, the more His peace and joy fill my heart.
Father, thank You for the privilege of praising You. I didn’t expect to write on this when I started! Thank You for knowing, always, what I need and how I need it. Help me respond to Your grace more and more fully, so that Your will may be done in and through me for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!