This morning, I woke up and immediately looked at the news which, in hindsight, was not my best yes. Upon reading about our world filled with instability and the nations that seem to be on the brink of nuclear war, I became incredibly fearful. It seems like bad news is the only type of news that we receive today and things are just getting worse. What a terrifying reality to live in!
But then I began to pray. I prayed for the leaders and nations that seem to be flirting with the idea of a nuclear conflict. I prayed that people would come to know God on a deeper level and see him for who he truly is. I prayed for my heart and the heart of his Church that we would be flooded with hope and joy and peace.
And then I couldn’t help but praise God for all of his goodness.
In Nehemiah 12, the people still weren’t out of the woods. Danger still lurked all around and plenty of surrounding nations weren’t big fans of the work that had been done. Though much had been accomplished during their time together, there was still work to do. And yet, they took time for a praise break.
“And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” Nehemiah 12:43 (ESV)
I’m sure that all of us are dealing with something hard in at least one area of our lives. When things are good, that doesn’t mean that our lives are without difficulty. So we’re always presented with an opportunity to praise God in the middle of a trial or struggle. And over the years I’ve learned that people will inevitably notice when we praise God in the middle of difficulty. I’m not saying that we make a big deal about it or prop ourselves up as if we have it all figured out, but something different comes over us when we’re able to rejoice when things are less than perfect.
I love that the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. Others noticed the actions of Jerusalem (for better or worse); there was no way for them to go unnoticed. Their praise was audacious and something I fully believe pleased God. They had returned to him after straying, repented for their sins, changed their ways, and took time out of their busy lives to praise him—talk about a great model to follow!
I tend to want to forego praise and rejoicing in favor of trying to fix all of the problems that I see in my life. But this passage reminds me that when I praise him regardless of circumstances, he is honored and I am changed. So I can choose to praise, knowing that all of my problems and worries are best handled when I let go and place them in his hands.
Do you tend to praise in the midst of difficulties?
How can you incorporate praise breaks into your day today?