Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Beauty of Painful Praise

A couple weeks ago, Tony Chaney gave the message at church. I regret that I didn’t get around to blogging it sooner, but I will try to recall as much of the message as possible (I had gotten to church late on top of that as well).

Tony was talking about how to get through the tough stuff and how to praise God when it hurts the most. It reminded me of how Jeremy Camp talked about how he lost his first wife to cancer and God had instructed him to give Him praises there at her bedside after she had taken her last breath. He said it was so hard, but he did it anyways and it was such a beautiful time of worship and comfort.

Jeremy Camp wasn’t the first (or the last) person to experience a terrible loss and then be expected to go on with his faith. Long before any of us were born, there was a man named Job. I think most of us know his story (and it’s all chronicled in the Bible). Tony used Job’s story to drive home the point of making a sacrifice of praise because it’s in those times that it is the most crucial and powerful time to do so (like with Jeremy). Tony said there is great spiritual victory in praising God when we are hurting. We just lay it all down at His feet and in those moments of brokenness and surrender, we heap burning coals on Satan’s head. Can you imagine how frustrated and angry Satan must have been when Job, Jeremy, (and anyone he thinks he’s got broken down beyond repair) praised God and gave Him glory anyways? Satan had had to ask God permission to even touch Job. When God decided to allow it, Satan just had a hay day! Yet, none of Satan’s misery could make Job “curse God and die” (and he can’t make me do it either! ;) LOL).

Tony reminded us that God is so awesome!! Just as God reminded Job in chapter 38, He is sovereign and in control of all things. Regardless of what we THINK we know or understand, there are greater things and a bigger picture that we don’t always see or know about. Often, we don’t understand the purpose of our suffering (or the sufferings of others). God assures us, however, that it will work for good (Romans 8:28).

Regardless of if things are going good or going bad, give God the praise! Tony reminded us to embrace that because praise opens doors for many things. An attitude of thanksgiving and praise goes a long way - why else would the apostle Paul remind the saints to encourage each other, and give thanks and praise to God so often? Praise is powerful (it reminds me of the short little book “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. Check that one out!).

The message ended by sharing the testimony of a guy many of you may have heard of. His name is Nick Vujicic and he was born without limbs ( you can learn more about him on his website: http://www.lifewithoutlimbs.org/). He’s a great example of one who has embraced a life of praise by embracing the difficult circumstances he has to deal with. Weaknesses can become strengths if we allow ourselves to accept and deal with the “hard stuff” that happen to us and then glorify God through it all!! I see it every day at my house as I watch Casey deal with his hearing loss. Like Nick, his “disability” is just part of what he has to deal with, but they don’t treat their losses as a handicap. They have both found ways to turn unfortunate complications into strengths and they glorify God and bless others with their lives because they refuse to be bitter and angry about their situations. I can’t even begin to tell you how inspiring they both of them are to me and how my heart melts and the tears well up whenever I think of the beautiful testimonies that they are living out!! Even now as I sit here in tears after watching Jeremy’s video testimony (I cry every time I see it!) my precious Casey is standing by my side and literally wiping away every tear that is rolling down my face. He asked me, “Mommy why are you crying?” and just proceeded to hug my neck, kiss me, and walk to one side of my chair and then the other to make sure he wiped away any tear that he might not have seen. His heart and his compassion blows me away! When he does things like that, it’s like I am actually seeing and experiencing the heart of God; as if God Himself reached out and touched me through the hands and heart of my six-year-old. Father, THANK YOU!!

In closing, remember to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 which says: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing.” As hard as that may be sometimes, it’s something that will richly bless our hearts (and the hearts of others) if our souls are overflowing with prayers of thanksgiving and praise!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

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