We have often heard it said, preached from the pulpit, sung about, etc., that we are supposed to praise God in the midst of our troubles. After all, isn’t it a Biblical concept? “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.” (Rom. 5:3 NLT, alsoJames 1:2).
Unfortunately, this is concept is a bit foreign to most of us, even to those who talk, preach and sing about it. I mean, most of us don’t feel joyful enough to praise God in the midst of our trials!
I read a very interesting passage from2 Chron 29 today, from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). It was the story of Hezekiah, as he was beginning the religious reforms that his reign is famous for. First he had the priests and the Levites clean the temple of all the atrocities of idolatry that his father and other kings before him had placed there. Next he pulled together the “worship team”, Levites skilled in the making of music and singing. Then he commanded that the sacrifices begin, and this resulted in so many sacrifices being brought that the priests couldn’t keep up with them. Finally, when the sacrifices were finished, Hezekiah called the people to kneel, to worship, to praise: “Then [Hezekiah] the king and the leaders ordered the [Levites] to sing praises to ADONAI, using the words of David and of [Asaph] the seer. They sang praises until they were filled with joy, and they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves.” (2 Chron. 29:30 CJB)
Wait. Did you catch that? This text, translated by a scholar of ancient Hebrew, who is also a Messianic Jew, puts the words in a slightly different order than what we would expect…The record doesn’t say the people were so filled with joy that they praised God; it doesn’t even say they bowed down and then began worshipping God; rather, it says: “…They sang praisesuntil they were filled with joy…” And it was only after joy overcame over them that, “they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves…”!
I wonder if we have it backwards. Perhaps we shouldn’t wait until we feel joyful enough to praise God in the midst of our trials, for this time may never come. Instead, we should sing His praises in the midst of our trials, until we are filled with joy! In dire circumstances, we won’t even begin to feel that joy until we start praising God!
It makes sense, doesn’t it, for doesn’t the Bible teach us that God is the source of joy? “…in your presence is unbounded joy, in your right hand eternal delight.” (Ps. 16:11b CJB)
The New Year begins today. For most of us, our New Year’s prayer goes something like this: “Oh God, may this year have a few less problems then the last!” Why not learn from Hezekiah’s story and change our prayer for New Year’s this year? Why not put things in the “Hezekiah order”, the one that says we sing praises until we are filled with joy, until we fall down and worship! I can guarantee you that when we put things in this order, we will never look at problems the same way again.
A friend of mine once told this little story. Although she was between jobs, she was not between bills. Despite her no-income status, she was still required to pay her rent, her utilities, buy her groceries, etc., and with each incoming bill, her discouragement mushroomed. Then one day she put all the bills in a pile on the floor. She then got out her guitar and began praising God. As she sang and praised, her feet began to dance around those bills and she became filled with that immeasurable joy, joy that can only come from the presence of God.
Needless to say, she felt incredibly better, but the story doesn’t end there. Over the next few days, money began coming in from unexpected places until my friend’s expenses were all paid!
I don’t know about you, but I think my New Year’s Resolution this year might look a bit different than that of previous years. It might look a bit like this: “I resolve to praise God in themidst of my problems. I resolve to not stop praising Him until I am filled with so much joy that I can do nothing else but bow my head before Him.”
Won’t you join me?
Oh, and if you are wondering where to start your praise, why not check out “Found in You” by the Paul Baloche?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.