A Broken Hallelujah: Pushing Hallelujah into the Mundane
by Sharon W. Betters
Frederick Buechner, American author, theologian and preacher among many other things said that praise is not offering God compliments but that we “learn to praise by paying attention.”
Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote Today’s Treasure:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
In all things give thanks.
How often I have pushed back against this command to give thanks in all things, especially in the middle of great darkness. Perhaps one reason I push back is because I have not cultivated a heart of thankfulness in the mundane moments of life. Read the entire chapter of 1 Thessalonians 5 to get the context of Paul’s message. He is teaching the Thessalonians how to reflect Jesus in their everyday lives, in the drudgery of living as Christians in a secular culture. Often when we are desperate to know God’s will for our lives, we look for a big project, a big task, a big platform. Instead, the “big task” is a long obedience in the same direction, as one author has said. Part of that obedience is integrating gratitude into the fabric of our lives.
When we apply Paul’s exhortation to “give thanks in all things” just to the crises in our lives, we miss the life-transforming impact of giving thanks in all things in the mundane moments of daily living. Intentionally pushing “Hallelujah” into the ordinary rhythm of life helps prepare us to cry out a broken hallelujah when life falls apart.
What does “giving thanks in things” look like? Recently our little great-niece Lily reminded me to “stop and smell the flowers”. Lily reacts to every experience with curiosity and wonder. She saw ants on our sidewalk and stooped down to watch and then wave at them. Lily loves different kinds of foods that most littles would reject. What is mundane to me is a marvelous wonder to her. Watch little children experience their world with wonder and excitement and ask the Lord to give you that kind of a grateful heart, one that recognizes His blessings in every good and perfect gift.
Surely there is a neighbor who kindly shares the bounty of his garden, a beautiful breeze on a hot day, an uninvited weed that blooms with beauty in your well-kept garden, a friend who stops by with an unexpected plate of cookies, a cashier who actually looks at you! Each good and perfect gift comes from our Father. Are we intentional in giving thanks in all things? When our practice is to give thanks to our God in all things, then giving thanks when darkness falls will be a more natural response to our circumstances.
When is the last time you intentionally thanked God for the many gifts that surround you? Your life might be so broken it feels impossible to find anything for which to be thankful. I suggest you start a Gratitude Journal. Every day write down one gift that God has sent your way. If you don’t know where to start, read Psalm 147, a Hallelujah Psalm. The Psalmist starts with Hallelujah or praise and ends with Hallelujah. As Frederick Buechner said, praise is not offering God compliments but that we “learn to praise by paying attention.” Let this psalm help you pay attention to the priceless ways God blesses us every single moment of every single day. I started to bold specific blessings in this passage, but realized I would have to bold the whole Psalm! Make a list in your journal – His love will overwhelm you!
Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.
The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.
Extol the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion.
He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down His hail like pebbles. Who can withstand His icy blast?
He sends His word and melts them; He stirs up His breezes, and the waters flow.
He has revealed His word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation; they do not know His laws.
Praise the Lord.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness, and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a non-profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.