Today, 4 weeks in to being stuck at home, unable to meet with each other, unable to go out and live lives we have always lived, I want to encourage to you praise God and to be grateful.
Ruby and I were filling in her ‘Lockdown Diary’ as part of schooling yesterday. In it, she was told that ‘even though the world just became pretty different, there’s still a lot to appreciate – the small things you might not have noticed before’ and she was challenged to talk about reasons to be happy. Hers was (and I quote), “I’m feeling happy because Jesus looks after us and we have the kittens!”. We spoke about all the other things we have to be grateful for and to praise God for too. Our house, our family, our health (so far), our friends even though we can’t see them. Once we started to list them, we found that the list was really quite long.
Yes, life is not as we would choose for it to be at the moment but we were able to see God’s hand and God’s blessings and God’s goodness even now.
In the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament, we see a great example of praise in the tough times in verse 3:18-19. The book is basically a dialogue between God and Habakkuk the prophet about why God is allowing all kinds of awful things to happen. The prophet questions God – as we talked about when we discussed lament – and eventually he came to this conclusion, from the Message version:
Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Saviour God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
After he had argued with God, he came back to the fact that God is God and that God is good and worthy of his praise even in the toughest of times.
In Hebrews 13:15, we read ‘Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Often our praise is easy and the word ‘sacrifice’ just doesn’t feel relevant but there are times, like right now in our world, where praising God does feel like sacrifice. It takes an act of will to come before him and praise him when we feel like life is just too hard, when we are facing things that are painful and difficult. When we bring a sacrifice of praise, we are choosing to believe that even though things are not as we would want them to be, God is still God and that God is still good and worthy of our praise.
This week, I want to challenge you to keep a gratitude diary. Each day, write a list of 5 things (at least) for which you can praise God. As you chat with each other this week, share them. Let’s give a ‘sacrifice of praise’ to God this week as we recognise all that he has given us and done for us, even now, and praise him by openly professing his goodness to each other.
God bless you!