From My Heart

From My Heart
by Jeanne Stone Helstrom

Sacrifice of Praise…

We are called to praise the Lord. Always. There are many scripture verses about praise ~ especially in the Psalms. Books, other than the Bible, are written on how we should praise God. Moses stopped to praise the Lord after he led the Israelites across the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:1-2). The Egyptians were so close on their tail, it was a wonderment they didn’t catch up with them. God took care of them, because Moses trusted Him to. In 1 Chronicles 16:34-36 David sang out praise to the Lord… “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever. Cry out, ‘Save us O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to Your holy name, that we may glory in Your praise.’ Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.”

In many ways, and times, God was praised for His wonderful deeds, healings, and rescues. He has been praised when prayers are answered, safety is given, when His presence is felt. We sing praise songs in our worship services, but sometimes it seems we are not truly praising God from our hearts. Things are not going well in our lives and it seems God is distant. David said, “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1). It’s always easy to praise the Lord when answers come, when miracles are seen, when there is healing, and reconciliation, and our hearts are filled with joy. But what about when we have prayed and we don’t see answers? What about when our health, or that of a loved one, deteriorates? Or, what about the times we have been treated unjustly, or judged, or shunned? Is there any reason for praise then?

David says, “It is good to praise the Lord…” (Psalm 92:1). And in Psalm 22:3, we read that “God inhabits the praise of His people.” Isn’t that an awesome thought? The enemy is always stalking us, “like a roaring lion,” (1 Peter 5:8), but he generally doesn’t seek to strike us physically. No, it’s when we are our weakest physically, or spiritually, or emotionally, that he seeks to destroy any hope that we have, replacing it with discouragement, and ultimately stealing our joy. We try to spend time in the Word, but in our discouragement, we begin to believe everything Satan is telling us.

Paul was imprisoned for his faith, for preaching the Good News to everyone he came into contact with. The one thing I appreciate most about Paul is his ability to sing praises while undergoing beatings and lashes, chains, starvation ~ and although he asked God to deliver him, he sang praises to Him because of Who He is, and because of the grace He offered in times of suffering. “That is why I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 10). He praised His Savior when it wasn’t convenient, when he was sick and tired, when He didn’t feel His presence.

One of my favorite stories in the new Testament is in Acts 12 where Peter was in prison and in the night, while he and the others were sleeping, an angel woke them and helped them escape. I love the hymn that came from that story ~ “And Can It Be?” It’s all about His amazing love. Can we do less than praise Him, even in the hard times? Especially in the hard times? Paul said to the Hebrews (13:15), “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise ~ the fruit of lips that confess His name.” I feel that when we praise Him in the hard times, that is our sacrifice of praise.

From my heart, Jeanne Stone Helstrom