From the depths to the heights

I have been inspired by stories of people who have fought through pain to praise and honour God.

I fully understand those who are angry with God when there seems no way out of their suffering. Why does God wait? Why doesn’t he rescue his children when they are staggering under financial, physical or emotional burdens?

I doubt I would manage such suffering well. I sympathize with Job who complained to God for what clearly seemed to be unjust affliction to him and his family.

But some people manage to trust God and even praise him in the midst of their troubles.

A good example is the apostle Paul.

Paul was stoned by a mob and left for dead. He was whipped to the maximum. He was jailed several times. He nearly drowned. He was bitten by a poisonous snake.

Yet he could write these great words in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Paul even goes further in Ephesians 5:20: “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Being thankful for everything seems to suggest we should be thankful even for the bad things that happen to us.

Even if we can’t go that far, we can praise God for who he is and what he has given us – particularly the gift of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us and the new life he has given us who believe.

As several writers have said, praising God opens us to the presence of God and that can change our hearts and even bring healing.

This calls for a big change in me.  It means I must trust God that he is really working things out for my good – no matter what my circumstances.  I must trust him even when things look bad.

I need to look on dark times the way the prophet Habakkuk did in Habakkuk 3:17-19:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,  yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength!”

That’s it.  God is my strength even when I feel I can’t go another step.

I can always be joyful that I am God’s child – forever.

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