Praising My Way Through Grief
Praising God when things are going well seems the right thing to do. But when my world seems to be shattered, praising God can feel unnatural. And so it is.
This is why God rejoices when I do it, and my life is transformed in the process.
There’s no doubt that the Word instructs me to keep on praising the Lord—no matter what my circumstances are like.
I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 KJV
What a challenge this has been in my Christian life. Too often I want to “bless the LORD” with my praise only when all seems right with my world.
When it feels to my near-sighted soul that He has withdrawn His blessings from me–such as when tragedy or trouble comes–I want to withdraw my praise.
The course in the midst of troubles has too often been: I will praise Him when things get better—when He is blessing me again.
The truth is God never stops blessing me. Every day and every moment of the day He pours His grace on me. He helps me through my troubles—if I’m willing to receive that help. His love for me does not change—even though my circumstances may.
Praises can cease when I start judging God– accusing Him of bringing calamity to my life for all sorts of unholy reasons. The truth is God remains holy and righteous through every season of my life. His view of me does not change just because I think it does or because the way I see Him becomes skewed. He is not punishing me through trials just because my wayward soul determines it is so.
When tragedy struck on February 28, 2012 due to the suicide of my brother, there was a part of me that wanted to stop praising God. How can I praise a God who refused to intervene to save this precious life? But those thoughts were short-lived as I determined to stay in praise no matter what my emotions told me.
As I have stayed in the Word—especially in the Psalms—I’ve been reminded that God is deserving of all my praise. Praise the Lord! I’ve recalled all He has brought me through. Praise the Lord! I’ve recollected how at times He has carried me when I’ve felt too weak to go on—both in this tragedy and in the midst of calamities in the past. Praise the Lord!
Not only do I praise God for His faithfulness in days gone by and in my present struggles, but I also praise Him for His promise to be faithful in the future. I feel excited about what He is going to do next to continue to bring good out of this latest heartbreak as He has done with every challenge in my life.
I’m still going through the valley of grief. This month is hard because it’s my brother’s birthday. Suddenly at times I’ve felt overwhelmed with guilt and anger again. Guilt over not doing more to reach out and encourage. Anger over the devil’s taunts that he has won the victory in this tragedy.
When I look at what has happened from God’s perspective, I see Him bringing triumph from tragedy. Hearts are being drawn closer to Him and to each other. I’ve never felt closer to the Lord.
My heart echoes what David said in Psalm 43:5
…for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (NIV)
Will you say and do the same?
1 Chronicles 21:22-24 22David said to him, “Let me have the site of your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price.” 23Araunah said to David, “Take it! Let my lord the king do whatever pleases him. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give all this.” 24But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”
Because of David’s sin in numbering the people (see previous two days), he had chosen between three possible curses. He chose three days of plague. When the angel stood over Jerusalem with his sword drawn, David knew he must act. 70,000 had already died. He interceded for the people and asked that the curse fall on him and his family since he had committed the sin. The LORD told David, through the prophet Gad, to build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah.
This was the same place that Abraham had offered Isaac. It is the same ridge upon which the Lamb of God would be offered for the sins of the world. It is where the chaff is blown away, and what is of value remains. For Abraham, the hope in his son was blown away and trust in God remained. For Jesus, the sins of the world were blown away with his blood, and the redeemed children of God remained. For David, the guilt was about to be blown away, and a forgiven man would remain. David wanted to purchase the ground upon which to build the altar and later the Temple. Araunah offered to give it to him. You might say he was generous, but remember that he is standing in the shadow of an angel with a sword. David insisted on paying full price. Though Jesus paid our sin debt, it was not as if it were inexpensive. He paid the full price in our place. Offerings cost. It cost God the greatest price that could be paid. When we give to God our own hearts, we, too, should be willing to pay with lives of service.
Consider: Will you sacrifice to God what costs you nothing or will you give Him your all?
Streams in the Desert – July 27
- 202127 Jul
Prove me now (Malachi 3:10).
What is God saying here but this: “My child, I still have windows in Heaven. They are yet in service. The bolts slide as easily as of old. The hinges have not grown rusty. I would rather fling them open, and pour forth, than keep them shut, and hold back. I opened them for Moses, and the sea parted. I opened them for Joshua, and Jordan rolled back. I opened them for Gideon, and hosts fled. I will open them for you–if you will only let Me.
On this side of the windows, Heaven is the same rich storehouse as of old. The fountains and streams still overflow. The treasure rooms are still bursting with gifts. The lack is not on my side. It is on yours. I am waiting. Prove Me now. Fulfill the conditions, on your part. Bring in the tithes. Give Me a chance.
I can never forget my mother’s very brief paraphrase of Malachi 3:10. The verse begins, “Bring ye the whole tithe in,” and it ends up with “I will pour” the blessing out till you’ll be embarrassed for space. Her paraphrase was this: Give all He asks; take all He promises.”
–S. D. Gordon
The ability of God is beyond our prayers, beyond our largest prayers! I have been thinking of some of the petitions that have entered into my supplication innumerable times. What have I asked for? I have asked for a cupful, and the ocean remains! I have asked for a sunbeam, and the sun abides! My best asking falls immeasurably short of my Father’s giving: it is beyond that we can ask.
–J. H. Jowett