Early in my walk with Jesus, it was easy to praise Him. I saw His hand in every sunrise, every wildflower, every happy moment.
But then life got hard. We experienced loss of loved ones, illness, job loss, struggles in our marriage, broken friendships. It was in those trials that we learned that praise is not always automatic - it's often a choice.
In the Bible, we see time and time again people experiencing difficulties just like us, acknowledge the hard stuff and still choose to praise God.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs and prowling about the city. They wander about for food and growl if they do not get their fill. But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
...The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
The list could go on and on. So how do we do this? How, in the midst of great suffering, do we still manage to lift praises to the God who may be allowing it? Who may not be answering our prayers the way we want? It's not easy. But here are some things I do in these moments:
- Remember how God has been faithful in the past. If you are struggling to think of a time in your life, look to the men and women of the Bible. Abraham's story is one that I often turn to in these moments
- Instead of asking 'why me?' - say 'use me.' There is no situation that God cannot use for your good and His glory. Ask God to grant you vision to see how He will use your situation
- Be honest with God. There is no need to sugar-coat what you are feeling. He knows how you feel about the situation. Like the authors of the passages above, it's okay to express anger, despair, frustration. To acknowledge how hard the situation is. But don't stop there - make the choice to praise Him anyway
I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His Name together.