Trials can lead us to a greater dependency on God and a deeper trust in His sovereignty if we let them. 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 something, 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 … even if sorrow fills my heart ….
Have you been to these crossroads?
God shows us a powerful example of praise-over-pout behavior in 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. And later stripped, beaten, and unlawfully jailed without a trial. After the flogging, Paul and Silas were taken to the inner cell of the prison, normally reserved for the most dangerous offenders, and their feet were placed in stocks ..
Can you just imagine that? And we think we have persecutions. 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 likely have been in severe physical pain; though they sat shackled in a dank, dark smelly dungeon; Paul and Silas chose to glorify the name of God ….
“A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” (Acts 16:22-25)
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 and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he 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, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.”
Though we won’t always rejoice in all of our circumstances, we are to praise God despite the situation; we are commanded to always rejoice in the Lord. We must learn to praise Him at ALL times and in EVERY, yes ALL circumstances ….
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalms 34:1)
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
(James 1:2-4) NLT
When we praise the Lord through, and in spite of, what we face; our praise becomes our deliverance through the trial ….
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5).
This world around us is broken and hardship is unavoidable. But, no matter what difficult times we encounter, God is worthy of our praise, at all times and in every circumstance …..
When we choose to praise instead of pout, we choose to trust God. When we choose to trust God, the wounded world around us lifts their eyebrows in wonder; just like the Roman jailer. Remember; God uses the foolish to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27), and people will be confused and call us fools when they see us praising God in trials. They lack understanding, yet by our praise we just might draw one in and save a soul …
Yes, absolutely, sometimes a sacrifice of praise is required, and most difficult. However, offer it anyway. Was Jesus’ sacrifice for us not worthy, or shall we make that all in vain just to pout and gain sympathy for our struggles?
In summary; praise that perseveres begins with a determined heart, mind and soul. There is so much power in praise and our praise and worship enables us to rise above any cirumstance, no matter how tragic or negative ….
By the power of the Holy Ghost we can come through any troubles with joy. Scripture tells us to “take every thought captive, casting down those vain imaginations” that are in disobedience to His Word
(2 Corinthians 10:5).
Are you standing at the faith/trouble crossroads today? Choose to trust God and praise Him in spite of your circumstances and He sustain you. Praise Him through your storm and He will carry you through ….
“I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the Lord ! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”
(Psalms 145:1-4) NLT
Let us pray ~
Dear Lord, Thank You for being trustworthy and praiseworthy! I ask that You will nudge me to trust You each time I approach 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,