Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Heaven’s Solution to Our Emptiness” Part III
“Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”
New International Version
Has there been an event in my life that at one time I found extremely painful, but later realized God was at work and I didn’t understand it at the time?
What was the event?
“Now amidst the pain
Now amidst the aloneness
When depression comes in
like a flood;
When tears flow –
Now I love you, Lord,
Now I long to know you,
Thankful for all the blessings
when I am
Have you gone through a difficult time in your life and asked, “What do I have to be thankful for right now?”
I am certain we can all think of times in our lives when we didn’t feel very happy. Everything seemed to be going wrong. One catastrophe piled upon another.
As a young girl, my mom decided when my sister and I started to complain she’d cure us with a little song she would sing called, “Smile and Be Cheery!” Honestly even today, when I hear that song, a smile comes across my face. No one in our family can help but laugh when someone starts singing that tune.
Perhaps my mother got her idea for singing your way out of heartache from two stalwart Bible heroes – Paul and Silas. These two men of God were on a “missionary trip” to the city of Philippi where they “stayed for some days.” While there, Paul and Silas were harassed by a young woman, a fortuneteller, who was possessed by a “demon.” Paul called this evil spirit out of the slave girl and she became of sane mind. However, “her owners discovered their hope of profit was gone, and caught hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the marketplace where trials were held” (Acts 16: 16-19, Amplified Bible).
Here’s where the story takes a perilous turn for our two leading men. After having false charges brought against them, the crowd joined in with rods, ripped their clothes off and beat them. This wasn’t enough. They struck them many times and then threw them in a dirty, dark prison cell. In fact, the Bible says they were put in the “inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in stocks” (Acts 16: 22-24, Amplified Bible).
About this time I would be saying, “Has God forgotten me? I’m out here doing work for Him and look what’s happened!”
What do we read was the response from Paul and Silas? Verse 25 says: “But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them,” their deliverance came in the form of a great earthquake that loosed their shackles and released them. The poor jailer, certain his life would be worth nothing, was prepared to kill himself, when Paul called out, “We are all here.” Then another amazing miracle took place -- a revival meeting broke out in that prison and the jailer and all his household “accepted Jesus.”
I wonder whether Paul and Silas could ever have imagined, as they were being beaten with sticks and tossed in prison in the afternoon, that by midnight they would be free and the jailer would be saved. God was at work and Paul and Silas trusted Him so much that even in the darkest dungeon of the prison, they could be heard singing hymns of praise.
There are two important points in this story about what praising God in the middle of turmoil can do. First, it lifts our spirit to have an attitude of gratitude. We feel better. We are happier. We are more positive. In the words of George Herbert, “Thou hast given so much to me, give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful when it pleaseth me, as if thy blessings had spare days; but such a heart, whose pulse may be thy praise.”
But praise on our lips doesn’t just lift our own spirit. It affects others around us. Don’t you find it interesting that the Bible says the other prisoners listened as Paul and Silas sang and their attitude changed, too. They didn’t try to kill the jailer or escape and run for their lives. Paul was able to report, “We are all here.” Something changed in the hearts and lives of everyone in that jail because two men chose to praise God in the middle of great trouble.
Just think how full our lives can be today when the seeds of praise are scattered across the landscape of our lives, and bloom into a plentiful garden.
“O sweetness of my life,
Only love of my soul,
You led me through a desert without a path
Over arid land,
To this green valley
To praise Your love.”
Gertrude the Great
“I’ve been looking for a suitable word
to praise you, Lord. Something enthusiastic
but not too formal, the sort of happy shout
a child gives to its mother.
I’ve tried Hallelujahs, Glorias and Hosannas,
but really, what I’d like is a word
from my own language, a word that is me.
If I were a bellbird, I’d fill my throat
with ecstatic song. Or, as a lamb,
I could fling myself into spring dance.
As a mountain stream I would spill out
inarticulate babblings of joy.
And if I were the sea, my waves would explode
in a thunder of love for you.
Lord, you overwhelm me with your great goodness.
Praise should not be difficult and yet
I can’t find the exact word. Perhaps
it doesn’t exist, though if it does,
I’m sure that it sounds like “Yippee!”
Prayers of a New People
“I will thank You and confide in You forever, because You have delivered me and kept me safe. I will wait on, hope in and expect in Your name, for You are good.”
Praise 52: 9
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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