Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sacrifice of Praise

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Let's take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus' name.

Hebrews 13:15 (Message)

How much thought have you given to that verse? I have to be honest, I haven't given much thought at all. I think there is a song we sing sometimes with those words in it. That is probably the only reason I know this verse exists. As I was laying in bed last night I was thinking about the words sacrifice and praise. I have never thought they belong together. Praise usually comes out of an overflow, abundance, right? Usually.

I think I might be starting to have a small amount of understanding about this verse. Without going into too much detail, there has been something I desired greatly. I have prayed to God for years about this thing. I prayed specifically, hows and whens, it was a wonderful plan. Then as time passed, it looked like I would not see this dream realized the way I had envisioned. I was saddened but felt that I had given God every aspect of that dream, that hope, and I trusted His wisdom. Then I received the thing my heart had desired, the way my heart had desired. It was amazing. As if God wanted to give me the most perfect gift. I praised and thanked God over and over, amazed at His love for me. Yet not one week later, it was gone. The dream, the hope, was taken away. I refused to believe it, knowing that this had been a gift from God. How was this possible? I felt like I had been slapped across the face. I felt foolish. Yet, even amidst the pain of the loss I believed God and had faith. I trusted His will over my understanding. I KNOW He knows the end and that He will get glory, but was still so sad.

So, this past Sunday was the first time I had been back at church since all of this had happened. I didn't give any thought to it, wasn't worried or unsure about going. I am always at church, I WORK at a church. During the first service I walked into the back of the sanctuary and began to sing the music... and I realized I couldn't sing. I literally choked on the words. The words had to do with trusting God and His knowledge for what is best. I couldn't physically sing those words. Why? I DO trust God. I DO believe He knows what is best for me. I DO love Him and know that He loves me. So why the tears and inability to sing? I guess because my hope was deferred and my heart was sick.

Since Sunday I have really noticed that my prayer and praise hasn't been the same as it was before all of this. It has been difficult at times. It has been a sacrifice.

Do you think that is what this verse is referring to?

Have you had to choose to praise when it was difficult? I believe it is in times like these that God reveals another part of His character and love to us. Maybe this will resonate with you. Maybe you have been struggling to praise God. Ask Him for help, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

He is faithful.


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