It’s simultaneously one of the easiest and most difficult things to do. It is easy because we have a plethora of praise songs at our disposal to help us lift our hearts in praise to our Savior. We have Psalms. We have the joy that bubbles up inside of us to produce worship that our words sometimes cannot even express. So many "resources," for lack of a better term.
So why in the world is it also so difficult?
To be honest, I think praise is difficult for a variety of reasons that all come back to the realities of living in a sinful world. But, if I had to pinpoint the number one reason I personally struggle with praise, it would come down to the fact that I frequently try to praise with the wrong motive. I praise because I want to feel better. I just want relief. Ouch. I am strongly resisting the urge to go back and delete that admission. How can I possibly call it praise if it’s only about how I feel? That’s not praise. That’s a fix. Ouch again. Can I just delete this whole paragraph?
So many of the Psalms of David show him in the pits of despair, crying out to God for salvation and relief. But, more often than not, somewhere mixed in with the despair is praise. Psalm 43 is an example. It’s a short Psalm, so would you mind if I just shared the whole thing with you?
Prayer for Deliverance
1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation;
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
2 For You are the God of my strength; why have You rejected me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your dwelling places.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God.
I love the reminder that this Psalm gives. David wanted relief just as I often do, but that was the focus of his prayer, not his praise. He promised God that he would go praise when his relief came, but relief did not come immediately as it had at other times. His soul still despaired. So what did he do? He instructed his soul. He told his soul to, even in its despair, hope in God. He told his soul to praise.
But, the most beautiful thing about it is that David did not tell his soul what to do for the purpose of removing the despair. He did it because it was the right thing to do. He knew he was supposed to praise God. When the relief did not come, he knew the praise was still necessary. So, he instructed his soul to praise even in despair.
I live in a fallen world surrounded by pain and struggle. As a result, prayer and praise will not always help me shake despair and heartache. They will not make me feel better. And often I cannot simply choose to shake those feelings. But, there is something I can choose to do. I can choose to hope and praise. Not for the purpose of feeling better. Simply for the purpose of giving glory to the One who deserves to receive it, regardless of my emotions.
I will choose to praise. Not because of what it will do for me, but because that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s what I was made to do. No matter what the circumstances. No matter what my emotional state may be. No matter what the results will be for me. I will praise. Will you join me?