This afternoon, as I was out driving, a wave of discouragement came over me. I had been in a fine mood all day, just taking care of things I needed to. Then while I was driving home, that all changed. And it happened in such a way that it was like I could see my mood change…as if, like when a gust of wind hits you, discouragement suddenly just blew into my life at that moment. At that moment, my whole demeanor changed.
I’ve always been one to wear my emotions on my sleeve for the most part, so I can only image what my face and body language was like when this discouragement came over me…good thing I was in the car alone. While I wasn’t looking at myself to see what my face looked like at that moment, I definitely knew how I felt. Sad. Discouraged. Defeated. Hopeless. In my mind I felt like just complaining to God about everything. And even though I was listening to Praise Songs at that time, I sure didn’t want to praise God in that moment…
…and then this song started to play: The Doxology. This is a song I know well, and have sung in church for years. This particular time I was listening to the version by Phil Wickham (his version is called Doxology/Amen). The opening lyrics are “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” The entire Doxology calls us to Praise God, but it was that first line that really hit me in that moment.
There I was, complaining to God in my head and feeling completely discouraged, and I was being reminded to praise God. I began to think how I love to praise God when things are going well in my life, or at the very least I’m not struggling with feeling discouraged. But at this moment, I really did not feel like praising God because I was tired of life being hard and feeling very discouraged. And as I was thinking that, a moment of truth pierced through the discouragement and hit me hard.
If I can’t praise God when things are not as I want them to be, then what does that say about when I am praising God? If I can’t praise God in the bad, am I really praising God in the good…or am I actually praising the good God is allowing in my life? If I only choose to praise God when things are good, then am I praising God, or praising the moment?
That truth and the challenge from that truth hit me hard. I love God, and I want to be one who can praise God for who he is and what he has already done for me, even if in the current moment things are difficult. God deserves praise simply because he is God. He deserves praise because he offers us salvation when we don’t deserve it. God deserves praise because he has offered me a love that I cannot get from anyone else, and he never stops loving me even when others do.
Regardless of how good or difficult life is at this particular moment, God is the same and deserves praise the same. If I can’t praise him when the moment is hard, but I can when the moment is good, then the reality is that I’m potentially praising the moment more than I am praising God.
Consider Job. God allowed him to lose everything. Yet despite the discourage and defeat and hopelessness he was feeling, it didn’t change his ability to praise God.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:20-21
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”. Job was known as a man of God before his life went from good to horrible. And then after he lost everything, he still chose to praise God.
When we sing praise songs to God in church, are we only able to do so if our life is good? Can we stand there and praise God through song even when our life is difficult? When we pray, are we only able to say “blessed be the name of the Lord” when things are comfortable for us, or can we also say that when life is currently uncomfortable? Can we say “thank you God, for you are good” in all circumstances, or only when our life is as we would want it to be?
May we realize that God deserves praise, no matter what our life situation is. May we realize the truth that if we can only praise God when things are good at that moment, then perhaps we are praising the moment more than God. May we desire to praise God simply because he is God, regardless of what the moment looks like. May we truly praise God in all situations.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised – Psalm 96:4
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. – Psalm 69:30
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. – Psalm 146:1-2