It’s easy to praise God when things are going well. The true test is whether we can praise God during very difficult times. Like when your marriage is falling apart, your child is terminally ill, you can’t provide financially, or the death of a loved one.
When those trials come, can we look to God in heaven and say, “I praise you for who you are, no matter my circumstance”?
Something happened one morning that would lead me to learn how to praise God in the storm. It hit hard and fast, and I knew right away that it was serious, it had the potential to last weeks or years, and I couldn’t handle it on my own.
After sitting stunned for a bit, I sent an email to several people, some of whom I had known for a long time and some for just a few years.
I knew that all of them, once they saw the message, would pray, and that’s what I needed most–to know that other people were knocking on the doors of heaven, lifting up the situation.
I received the most tender, supportive responses from people. Two people happened to send me to the same long Bible passage.
One of them tacked on a couple of extra verses, and my mind was blown at how those verses related to my situation.
One friend emailed me, probably on her lunch break, to say, “I am sorry to hear this. I will pray.”
Later that evening, I received a message from that same friend. She is a woman of few words, but when she speaks, you had better listen. Her words verbatim were, “Will keep praying. Try to keep praising God no matter what happens.”
In earlier years, I had watched as this friend praised God through a very hard time in her life. In my immaturity, I had not understood how she could praise God when, in our earthly eyes, her world was falling apart.
But as I had watched her praise God over the years, I had learned that she had a spiritual insight that I needed to gain. These are her words:
“When you praise God you can feel closer to Him and connected. You learn to trust Him and begin to know He is working things out for your best in a new way.
Praise helps us to keep our eyes on Him and not on our self or problems.”
So even though my stomach was dropping at the crisis I was in, I got out my prayer stool, opened up my Bible, and told God what a good God He was.
I found Psalms and Isaiah, and I prayed and praised them back to Him.
The test for me during a crisis as to whether I am handling it all right is am I sleeping and am I eating. I will tell you: I ate and I slept. I’m not saying my stomach didn’t stop churning.
But I returned again and again to my prayer stool, and I praised. I kept my eyes on Jesus.
I might not be able to thank God for my circumstance, but I can still thank Him for seeing me through it and just for who He is.
When we praise God, we focus on who God is: He is holy, loving, faithful, righteous, forgiving. Praise is not about what we feel–because sometimes we don’t feel like praising.
Instead, praise is about God’s character and the fact that He is worthy of praise.
God’s character doesn’t change, and His character isn’t changed by the circumstances of our lives.
In 2 Chronicles 20, the Israelites were under tremendous pressure. In verse 12, King Jehoshaphat cried to God, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” He went to the right place for help, his eyes yearning, pleading with the LORD.
As the Israelites marched to face a massive enemy, without having any idea what God was already accomplishing for them, they repeated, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever” (verse 21).
Over and over they proclaimed that God’s love endures forever, His love endures forever, His love endures forever. The only weapon they raised was the weapon of praise, and God soundly defeated the enemy.
What a difference praise would make in our lives if, when troubles come, we would seek the LORD and then praise Him for who He is and what He is going to do.