Praising God in good times is really pretty easy.
Praising God in the difficult times? Not so easy. But maybe really not too hard either. It’s actually a simple choice. It’s always a choice.
I was reading Psalm 44 this morning while sipping my mug of dark roast at Caribou. The psalm writer is feeling abandoned by God. Have you ever felt abandoned by God? I have. A very unpleasant feeling to say the least. The writer goes on to express feeling rejected by God, humiliated, mocked and oppressed by his enemies. This dude couldn’t get any lower.
He goes on to tell God he’d understand his heinous situation if he had been disobedient or forgotten God. But he hadn’t. He had remained faithful, stayed on the straight and narrow – and yet it hadn’t appeared to do him any good.
Man, can I relate to that. I am a “rule keeper” kind of guy. I am a “respect your elders” – “submit to authority” kind of guy. Yet there have been many times in my life where there seemed to be zero pragmatic value to my “goody two-shoes” lifestyle. I felt bewildered, alone, depressed, a touch angry. It would appear that God wasn’t holding up his end of the deal. And I succumbed to overwhelming self-pity.
Reality check: When did God ever promise me a protective bubble? When did God assure me that my life would be free of all bad stuff? Answer: Never.
My twisted, self-righteous sense of entitlement reasons:
Being a family man + reading my bible + going to church + being a professional holy man + not cussing or getting drunk + already suffering a lot as a Cubs fan + generally being a pretty nice guy = My life being peachy (99% of the time at least).
The truth is I live in a broken, evil, messed up world. I am essentially a broken, selfish person. This world is not my home. The truth is God does not promise my obedience will translate into my own personal Shangri-la.
He does promise to always be with me in hard times. He promises to give me the strength to weather the storms. To give me the right words, the right responses.
Back to Psalm 44. As bad as he is feeling – as bad as life is at the moment – the writer says:
“In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.”
Praise is a choice. Always a matter of choice. God is inherently worthy of my praise regardless of my circumstances or feelings. I must choose to praise him at all times.
Wow. I look back at what I’ve just written and it seems to be a pretty melancholy post! Lest I be misunderstood, let me say I have a very good life. I am blessed far beyond what I deserve. My walk with God. My wife. My children. My church. My friends. Ad infinitum. But there are times where I am blind to it all. All I see and feel is the bad stuff. My point is that even in dark times we who are followers of Christ must choose to praise God and trust in Him.
If the author of Psalm 44 can do it – I can do it. And I will.