Life was going along in a nice steady pace of “normal”. Then within just a short period of time everything seemed to fall apart and we moved to a different state, left our home. Things just seemed to keep going wrong and getting worse. We found ourselves in the worst financial and emotional situation we’d ever been in.
One gray day I took the dog for a walk through the woods. The tears cried out for release and I had to fight to keep from weeping. I walked and I prayed, prayed sincerely for God to help. Then I began to sing. Parts of different songs, some hymns, whatever came to mind. I kept walking, just walking and singing. Then as I sang the words to Come All Ye Faithful, I saw, literally, sunlight break through the grayness and shine through the trees. That prodded my tears again, but for another reason. To some it may have been only a coincidence, but for me, that sunlight was a sign, a sign that God was there, He heard, and He was in control. And as the tears blurred my eyes, I thanked God for that sunlight.
Sometimes life just doesn’t work the way we want it to. We lose control, everything seems to go wrong, we feel beaten down and reach the end of ourselves. That’s when we must rely upon our Lord and have faith. That’s when we must choose to trust, choose to remain faithful, choose to offer up our sacrifice of praise. Because if not, we’re turning away from our Savior, abandoning our life line, and succumbing to Satan’s attacks. But if we carry on and make a purposeful decision to have faith and praise God in the midst of the storm…that’s when things start to happen. That’s when God’s power and glory can shine through our lives.
When Paul and Silas were in prison, they didn’t wallow in despair or beat their fists against the wall, they instead chose to trust and praise God.
“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were loosened. The jailer, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, “Don’t harm yourself, for we are all here!”
He called for lights, sprang in, fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, brought them out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him, and to all who were in his house.
He took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was immediately baptized, he and all his household. He brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his household, having believed in God.” Acts 16:25-34 WEB
Through their sacrifice of praise, Paul and Silas allowed God to work through them to save the souls of a man and his family. Through their sacrifice of praise, they not only benefited themselves and those around them, but also brought glory to God. When we make a conscious choice to offer up our sacrifice of praise, that’s when we can do the same. That’s when, even if we can’t change our outward circumstances, we can change the inner by allowing God to work within us.
When we’re going through hard times, it’s easy for others to tell you to just smile and have faith. But sometimes when you’re in the midst of it, that’s the last thing you want to do and the last thing you want to hear. Well, I’m telling you that you don’t have to smile, you don’t have to feel like trusting, you don’t have to feel like praising God because sometimes you just don’t. What I am telling you is that sometimes you have to choose to trust and choose to praise God. It’s not about how you feel, it’s about the choices that you make. And those choices can have a huge impact, not only on your life, but on the lives of those around you.
Dear Lord, when hard times tear us down,
turn our hearts toward you.
When our hope is beaten to the ground,
help us trust and praise you.
When we feel the clutches of despair,
help us know that you are there.
Help us choose to bring you glory all our days,
and help us better offer up our sacrifice of praise.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15 KJV