Called to Praise
There’s one kind of praise, an “easy” kind, that springs forth spontaneously from us when we are joyful. We use the phrase “prayer and thanksgiving” a lot, and this kind of praise actually is thanksgiving. It acknowledges the source of our joy. When we recognize what God has done, our praise also serves to express our gratitude for his blessings. I look at this kind of praise as a kid being happy that he got an ice cream cone, or a 196-piece Star Wars action figure set. It’s appropriate to give thanks to God, and there’s nothing wrong with this.
But it’s tempting to think that all praise is like this and just happens automatically as a result of circumstance. I think the more important kind of raise comes as a conscious act. It’s one of those things that the world sees as crazy, like a kid being thankful for an immunization shot.
We are called to offer God praise, even when it doesn’t come naturally. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15). When we are suffering, it is important to take time to praise God. I’m not “thanking” Him for something bad. I’m thanking him for being my Sovereign God who cares enough to work in my life. Doing this a) takes the focus off myself (“woe is me”); b) reminds me instead of my heavenly Father of his power and glory, and his great love for me; and c) helps to strengthen and transform my faith. When I praise in the face of disappointment or sorrow, I am acknowledging that God has allowed this into my life. Through praise, I am saying that I accept this, I trust Him, and that I am rejoicing that I have my mighty, loving, heavenly Father who holds my life and my hopes in his hands.
I struggle to understand the good that will come of a situation, or even how I could possibly get through it. But my Sovereign God doesn’t struggle. He is fully in control, and knows exactly how “all things work together for the good” that he intends. By praising him we offer our faith that he is who he says he is and he will do what he has promised. We have faith that God is indeed at work in our lives.
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6).
Psalm 100 A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.