Monday, February 11, 2008

There Can Be No Joy without Praise

Continuing the last post's "praise first, petition second" theme: if you talk about your difficulties, you'll only talk yourself into further worry. If you praise God, you'll strengthen yourself to let go and let Him deal with your problems--in the way He knows is best.

Someone probably is thinking right now, "That's easy to say if your worst problem is shortage of funds to buy a yacht. But I've got cancer/my husband just left me with three small children/our house burned down and we don't have insurance/I've been out of work for six months--how can I possibly think of anything but my problems?"

Well, if you think your troubles are bad, consider Job. He had just about every tragedy that could happen to a person--financial ruin, loss of family, chronic illness--hit him in rapid succession; and to top it off, his best friends kept telling him he must have brought it on himself. He had all but demanded an audience with God so he could prove he had done nothing to deserve all this. And then God showed up--to confront Job with the full force of His power and authority. Job's response? He stopped complaining about his pain. He stopped protesting the injustice of life. All he could do was admit his unworthiness, and apologize for his presumptive attitudes (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6).

We tend to forget that God not only doesn't owe us problem-free lives, He doesn't owe us anything at all. For all the derisive comments about "pie in the sky by and by," it's unmistakably true that if God only saved our souls while denying us all earthly blessings, that would still be infinitely more than we deserve. The more we realize that, the closer we move toward being able to find happiness in the only place that counts--in God alone.

But we'll never make any progress in that direction until we learn to consistently praise Him for Who He is.

Does your soul feel heavy and burdened?
Do gloom and despair stalk your days?
Try counting the Lord's great attributes:
There can be no joy without praise.

We talk about counting our blessings,
And that stands among the best ways,
But do not forget--bless the Giver!
There can be no joy without praise.

For even the richest of blessings,
If they're to preeminence raised,
Soon grow dull and taken for granted:
There can be no joy without praise.

God's mercies are new every morning,
God's light stands out even through haze,
God's glory outshines all earth's treasures:
There can be no joy without praise.

So do thank the Lord for His blessings,
But thank Him the more for His grace,
And let what He is overwhelm you:
There can be no joy without praise.

Confession will free you from burdens;
Thanksgiving will sharpen your gaze,
But if you'd be always rejoicing,
Be sure to keep singing God's praise!

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