Too often we think that praise comes from good feeling. Why is it that only the winning believers praise the Lord in sports? Why does God only get praise when something good happens?
The great secret of praise is learning to bless the Lord's name in the midst of suffering and loss. This is a difficult time of year for me, now that my family of origin has disintegrated. In many ways, when Christ came into my life He began the process of making me an orphan on this earth while all who were once part of my family circle still live. I have blessed His name with the deep grief from each broken relationship, even as I pray for reconciliation.
Our middle daughter's life has hung in the balance since she was 4 from a disease for which there is no cure this side of the cross. This Christmas, she will have a new form of neurosurgery. We will spend Christmas day at Children's Hospital in Dallas, and today what is looming in the windshield is finally shaking loose the tears for her suffering, the fears for what future years may bring... and I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth, even as the waves of grief drift over me.
Nothing will stop me from praising the Lord's name, as long as there is breath in my body. Praise is His strength in me, His hope for me, the shelter of wings that can hold me even if the worst comes. Being different is not a choice-- it is the only hope that stands when death shakes the foundations, and the mountains of one's own life fall into the sea.
Each time that I fall on my knees before the Lord, and find the comfort and strength that the Holy Spirit provides I am reminded of how many do not know Who I know, what I know. Each time a wave crests, I am reminded of the waves of pain that flowed from wrists and feet up the cross through the heart and mind of the One Who comforts me.
The work of ministry is not a recreational side light to "real life." This is real life. This is for all the marbles-- for life itself. How can we not share Who we know? How can our lips stay silent, waiting for rocks to claim the great joy--even through tears-- of lifting our voices in praise of the God Who made us, Who loved us enough to die for us, Who comforts and sustains us even through the valley of death?
Sing praises to the Lord this day-- no matter what this day brings to you.