There’s an older evangelical praise song that sings “We bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.” That song is something I’ve sung when my heart has been full of joy. God is so big and so infinite and so mighty. It has felt easy to praise him even when life was hard. I never was able to fully connect the concepts of sacrifice with praise, much less to consider praise in and of itself to be a sacrifice. Perhaps I’m ratting on myself and revealing just how spiritually immature I am! Since we’re all one in the body of Christ, I’ll trust that you can grant me some grace in this regard.
The last two and a half years have been a tremendous challenge. My family has experienced professional and personal moments that are beyond belief. Literally if I wrote them down and read them, I wouldn’t be able to believe that these things happen. Soap operas are made up of lesser content. It’s even harder when crushing experiences come from the hands of people who profess to be Christians. I’ve definitely been convicted to look at my own fruit to make sure that I’m not perpetuating any of the ugliness and invective that we have experienced. I’ve had to ask myself and my trusted friends if I’m the one that is crazy (and not the other party) and be willing to hear the truth from them.
During these dark moments when I KNEW that we were in the lion’s den and that only God could sustain us, I realized something. Regardless of whether our lives are happy or sad, easy or hard, God IS. The very fact that He is our creator and that He sustains us compels us to praise Him. In these hardest of moments, when it takes every ounce of focus to put one foot in front of the other, I have come to realize that praising God is a sacrifice. Sometimes this sacrifice comes from a well of sorrow or from a literal battlefield.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament discuss ‘sacrifices of praise.’ Jeremiah 17:26 and 33:11 use exactly this phrase as does Hebrews 13:15. Hebrews 13:15 & 16 says,”Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” I am not a biblical scholar, but it seems to me that we cannot give God a sacrifice of praise without failing to do good and to share. The fruit of our lips and the fruit of our actions are our testimony to the world that is watching.
I can say with confidence that my attitude during this season has needed adjustment. I can only hope God covers this Italian Mamasita with much needed mercy. At the same time, I have felt compelled to praise Him even when it hurts to breathe. I have felt convicted to make sure that my actions match the whispers of prayer that I send up in the darkest moments. The treasures have been those times when someone asked us how and why we were handling it all so ‘well’ (if they only knew what I looked like on the inside). To God be the glory, to Him be all Praise, and may my sacrifices of praise bring Him pleasure.