I started trying to edit down this devotional because it is sort of long but there was just too much good stuff in there! I encourage you to read through this devotional from none other than Girlfriends in God :) as they talk about praising God through the trials in life. One of my favorite quotes here…“I’m reminded that in every situation, I come to a crossroad and have a choice: I can pout or I can praise. I can turn away from God because I don’t understand or I can turn toward God in full assurance that His understanding is enough for the both of us – even if it hurts – even if anger lingers – even if doubt looms.” (Emphasis throughout is mine.)
April 29, 2011 (see, drafts have been building up a LONG time)
Praise That Perseveres
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25, NIV)
Friend to Friend
Andrea lives in Lake Mary, Florida and is the proud momma to four beautiful girls. Two of her daughters are identical twins who have cerebral palsy and are severely disabled. Over the past 14 years, Andrea and her husband have been through the ringer. Her days are spent caring for the twins. And they are grueling days: filled with many tears, outbursts of frustration, and bouts of anger. There have been times that she has felt abandoned by God. Andrea admits that on many days, she has called out to God like the psalmist did: Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1, NIV).
Through it all, however, Andrea has determined that she will praise God in spite of the daily complications. “I have always prayed for healing for my girls,” she shares. “I believe that with the mere thought of our God that my girls could be restored. I know that if He heals them I will spend my life praising Him for that miracle and telling others of His goodness. Of course, although God can heal them, I’ve had to learn to spend my whole life praising Him simply because He is God – whether He heals the girls or not. I decided very early on that God is still God no matter what He allows in my life. I can trust Him even when I can't understand Him.” She thoughtfully finished with this statement: “It sounds easy, but it hasn't been.”
Oh, how I can relate to honestly like that! How I’m drawn to this type of God-courage. Her challenges are great, but she is determined to praise God anyway. When I hear stories like Andrea’s, my heart stretches toward trusting God. I hear and feel that the trials in her life have led her to a greater dependency on God and a deeper trust in His sovereignty. I’m reminded that in every situation, I come to a crossroad and have a choice: I can pout or I can praise. I can turn away from God because I don’t understand or I can turn toward God in full assurance that His understanding is enough for the both of us – even if it hurts – even if anger lingers – even if doubt looms.
Have you been to these crossroads?
God shows us a powerful example of praise that perseveres in chapter sixteen of the book of Acts. During the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his ministry buddy Silas encountered a collision of faith and trouble while in Philippi. After Paul cast out a demon that was terrorizing a young slave girl, he and Silas were seized by disgruntled Roman citizens and dragged to the marketplace before the rulers. They were then wrongfully accused of public disruption. They were stripped, beaten, and unlawfully jailed without a trial. After the flogging, Paul and Silas were taken to the in the inner cell of the prison, normally reserved for the most dangerous offenders, and their feet were placed in stocks.
Though they had every reason to sit and stew because of the injustice of their situation, Paul and Silas chose to trust in God's plan and praise their Lord, Jesus Christ. Though they had open wounds and would have been in severe physical pain, Paul and Silas chose to glorify the name of God. “After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16: 23-25).
Then God shook the earth and the prison foundations and loosed the chains of the prisoners. In horror, knowing he would be held responsible for the escape of the prisoners, the jailer raised his sword to kill himself – but Paul stopped him. He and Silas hadn’t fled. They stood amidst their dark circumstances and spoke and sang with confidence in their God.
As a result, several people, including the jailer and his family, came to believe in Jesus Christ. “The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’”
“They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household,” (Acts 16:29-34).
Though we won’t always rejoice in our circumstances, we are commanded to always rejoice in the Lord. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:4, 6-7).
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance,” (James 1: 2-3). When we praise the Lord through, and in spite of what we face, our praise becomes our deliverance through the trial.
“We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us…,” (Romans 5:3-5a NCV).
No matter what difficult times we encounter, God is worthy of our praise. When we choose to praise, we choose to trust God. When we choose to trust God, the broken world around us lifts their eyebrows in wonder – just like the Roman jailer. Sometimes a sacrifice of praise is required. Offer it. We can and should choose to bless His name through the pain, which astonishingly can bring His joy into our hearts.
Dear Lord, Thank You for being trustworthy and praiseworthy! I ask that You will nudge me to trust You each time I approach the crossroads of faith and trouble. In spite of the burdens on my heart and challenges in my path right now, I praise Your name and celebrate that Your hope will never disappoint. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
Now it’s Your Turn
- What steps can you take today that will help you remember to praise God when you come to the faith/trouble crossroads?
- Sometimes life does not turn out like we thought it would. OK, not just sometimes, but most times. Is there any part of your life that seemed to take a bad turn, and then God showed you that it was indeed His perfect plan? What good did you see coming out of it?
- Let’s talk about today’s devotion on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/GwenSmithMusic.