October 25, 2006

 

Encouragement for Today

 

Principal 1

 

“Just Praise Him”

Amy Carroll, Speaker Team Member

 

Key Verse: 

Luke 1: 46-48, “…My soul praises the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant….” (NIV)

 

Devotion: 

A chill swept through my whole body as I listened to my friend’s voice on the other end of the phone. Ozzie, a young man in our church’s youth group, had died from a tragic fall while at a youth retreat. The youth group, which included my son, would be coming home early. Questions swirled through my mind as I hung up. How had this happened? Wasn’t this the sort of thing that was just on TV or was reported about from places far away? Was my son Anson ok? My questions went on and on.

 

After the dazed and grieving group returned home into the waiting arms of their parents, reports of the accident and the subsequent events began to be told. I learned Ozzie’s mother, Maria, had been a chaperone for the youth that weekend, and was able to be with Ozzie as he died. After accompanying his body to the hospital, Maria had returned to the camp to speak to the shocked group of kids and leaders who were waiting to hear some news. She spoke of God’s goodness and His sovereignty. She testified about Ozzie’s love for Jesus and his journey to heaven to be with his Lord. She reminded the group of God’s love for each one of them, and she comforted them through her own sorrow.

 

I just couldn’t believe it. How was she able to do such a thing immediately after the death of her son? How was it that my son had been so comforted and inspired by this grieving mother? The cynic in me figured that surely her ability to do this that day came from pure shock. It simply was not normal.

 

God brought conviction to my heart that night as I read an author’s perspective on the praise that flowed from Mary’s lips after hearing the news that she was to be the mother of Jesus. Just like Maria, Mary had also received some shocking news. Although the coming of the Messiah brought joy to Mary’s heart, it had to have also brought feelings of fear and uncertainty that this child was to be delivered through her own unmarried, teenage body. God softened my heart as I thought of Hannah who praised God as she gave her only son to a life in the temple (see I Samuel 1 and 2)   and Job who worshipped God following reports from successive messengers of doom and loss (see Job 1).

 

Maria’s reaction wasn’t normal. It was extraordinary! I have no doubt that days of excruciating pain and grief are ahead for Maria and the rest of Ozzie’s family. However, as I learn more about Maria from her friends and church family, I know that her outreach to our hurting youth group was an overflow of praise from a woman that has cultivated a habit of praise through hard times. The question that God has gently raised in my heart is, “Sweet daughter, what are you doing to create a pattern of praise?” Blame, anger, and bitterness are the sinful soul’s response to tragedy, so praise is something that must be practiced and made a habit. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again:  Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4--NIV) Won’t you start with me today as I count every blessing and rehearse the truths of God’s character in the good times so that I’ll be ready to respond with praise when hard times come?

 

My Prayer for Today: 

Dear Lord, You are sovereign and You are good. We praise You that You don’t abandon us in hard times, and You don’t ever change. Your character is completely consistent.  Help us to learn that true praise comes from the knowledge of who You are, and praise isn’t just to be a response to good times. Help us to cultivate the habit of praise in every circumstance of our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Application Steps: 

Record verses that reveal the character of God in a journal.

 

Despite suffering and tragedy, God works in all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  Watch for His sovereign hand in hard circumstances.

 

Begin prayer time each day with worshipful praise and thanksgiving.

 

Ask God to give you a practical way to minister to a friend who is suffering—take a meal, share a meaningful book, or hold a hand and listen.  Bring God’s comfort.

 

Reflection Points: 

How do I respond to difficult circumstances in my life?

 

Are there responses from the past that require repentance?

 

What steps do I need to take during good times to cultivate a pattern of praise in my life?

 

Who do I know that has modeled praise and might be able to encourage me with their stories?

 

Power Verses: 

II Chronicles 20:12b, “…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” (NIV)

 

I Samuel 2:1-2, “…My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high….There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (NIV)

 

Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  (NIV)

 

Additional Resources:

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith, By Lysa TerKeurst

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_whatHappens.htm

 

Micca Campbell’s Testimony DVD

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_miccaDVD.htm

 

Intimate Moments with God, By Select Authors

http://proverbs31.gospelcom.net/newresources_intimateMoments.htm