The Practice of Praise

So I was sort of dark and twisty last week, and I am now reveling in the Colorado sunshine and the resolution of hard situations. I am looking with anticipation towards Easter and springtime and new life. We are going through a devotional currently about God’s goodness, and one day included reflecting on Psalm 145. I was so struck by the rich truths and wisdom within this passage, so inspired by what it has to teach us. (To balance out how holy I sound right now, I just need you to know that I am listening to the Jonas Brothers while I write this.)

If I was writing a Bible study, this is where I would make you go and read through this chapter and write out all the qualities this chapter attributes to God. (If you’re a student of mine, there is a good chance I will make you do this at some point.) Since you have landed here, I will do you the delight of just telling you the answer. This chapter speaks of God’s greatness, abundant goodness, righteousness, graciousness, and compassion (on all He has made!). It describes Him as being slow to anger, rich in love, good to all, and faithful. He has a glorious Kingdom, an enduring dominion, and upholds all who fall and lifts up those who are bowed down. He satisfies our desires, hears our cries, watches over us. Basically, if you need a description of who God is and what He does, this chapter is where to go.

When I walk through difficult situations like I did last week, sometimes it can be hard to believe some of these things about God. Good to all? Gracious? Do you actually hear our cry or watch over us, God?  But I found myself so comforted reading these verses, because my feelings might be valid but they are not always true. What Scripture tells us about God is both valid and true, and is not moved by my emotions or experiences. God is exactly who He is regardless of what is happening in our world. This is hard to reconcile with our experiences sometimes, but it is real.

And then this chapter tells us what our response should be. The list of actions within the chapter includes these: exalt, praise, commend, tell, speak, meditate, proclaim, celebrate, and joyfully sing. Reading that list of attributes of God should inspire nothing less than these actions as a response. He is absolutely, entirely worthy of all of our praise and adoration. There is no question of that. Who He is demands a new way of living for us.

Verse seven is maybe my favorite, and feels like a beautiful purpose statement for an individual or family or team: “They celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness.”

Even in, or especially in, the face of hardship and questioning, our practice needs to be praise. Our habit needs to be turning towards God and remembering what is True. Without Him we are without hope, without peace, without so many things. Choosing to praise in the middle of our season, whatever it might look like, will remind us of Truth and connect us to our Healer. It might not always feel like a “mountaintop” experience, but it will help us realign our thoughts and our lives with what God is doing and who He is.

For example, I am often anxious. Turning to worship reminds me of Who is in control (spoiler alert: not me), Who keeps the world spinning, Who knows everything that has ever happened and will ever happen. Putting God in His rightful place in my life drowns my worries and helps me trust. The fact that He hears our cries and watches over us? That is the antidote to my anxious thoughts.

The other thing I love about this list is that it shows us that praise can be so many things. It isn’t just listening to worship songs. It is meditating, celebrating, speaking, and more. Praise can be silent, praise doesn’t have to be your hands in the air (but it can be!). Praise can be in the midst of your darkest day because it doesn’t require you to pretend. Praise can be crying out for God to show up, and believing that He will. Praise is saying that you don’t understand and yet you still trust Him.

I’m not trying to offer a quick fix to our worries or our doubts. I’m not trying to bandage over real wounds or struggles with Scripture. But this chapter reminded me of so many truths, so many wonderful characteristics of our good God that really do make me want to practice praise. Even when praise feels out of character or uncomfortable or unfamiliar, choosing to practice it will remind us of what is true.

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I write to process, and sometimes send those thoughts out into the void. Passionate about Jesus and people and bringing those two together. Living in and loving Denver. Working with college students, who are the coolest. Seeking Jesus and JOY in everything.

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