Whenever I meet someone new and the conversation comes around to the fact that I have eight children, with one already in heaven, there’s an extremely good chance my new acquaintance will say, “I just don’t know how you do it”. I get that an awful lot. Usually in the moment I just say something generic like, “By the Grace of God” or “I really don’t know how I do it either, I just do”.
And for sure, taking care of a big family and household requires a large degree of just putting my nose to the grindstone and pounding it out. Sometimes it’s more of a ‘divide and conquer’ approach. Sometimes it’s a ‘hire a sitter and run away’ approach.
Really though, there is one constant, through the difficulties, the joys, the grief of loss, the stress, the momentous occasions, the pregnancies and the labors, proud moments and not-so-proud moments. Through it all I praise the Lord. I thank Him for anything and everything. And no matter how awful the situation or the circumstance there is always a reason to Praise. In the lowest of lows, it’s simple, elemental. I praise Him for creating me and loving me. And believe me when I tell you there are times that I just don’t feel like praising anyone or anything! In those moments I pray for the grace to give God praise and then just do it. It’s sort of like putting a smile on your face when you are angry or upset and don’t feel like smiling.
A really beautiful thing happens when you do that. The outward expression transforms the inner being.
And then there are times when I’m simply overflowing with thankfulness and I can’t help but let the Praise flow from my lips. Sometimes I’m so full of that inner joy and happiness that can only come from God that I think there can’t possibly be more. It is then that the Lord proves me wrong and gives me more. Those moments leave me in awe and wonder of His immeasurable goodness. To be full of Joy is a gift in itself, but to have that gift multiplied really transcends the human understanding.
When we praise God it transforms something within our being and not of our own power but by God’s power. He doesn’t need to hear our thanks – He knows how great He is – but we need to give Him thanks and He knows the incredible gift this is for us and gives it without limit.
St. Paul commands in his first letter to Thessalonians (5:18) “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”
Both the old and the new testament are chock full of instances of praising God. I love the account in Luke of the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zechariah, was visited by the angel Gabriel and is told that his wife will bear a son in her old age, but Zechariah doubts and is made mute until it comes to pass. When the time finally arrived and he declared in writing the name of his son, “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed and he began to speak, praising God” (1:64). I can imagine he must have had a LOT to say after being struck silent for so long but the only thing on his mind and heart was praising God.
And then there’s King David. I have this vision of the great and mighty and highly favored warrior leading his men home from victorious battle and singing and dancing and praising God the whole way. Here was a man of power, revered by men, who’s entire being was focused on praising and worshiping his God. I’m struck by the humility he demonstrates by this act of praise.
Call to mind the scripture in Matthew (18:3) “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. Jesus is speaking here of humility; Unless you become humble like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. God places a pretty high value on our humility because in the absence of pride our will becomes secondary to His perfect and Holy will for our lives. We are able to see the truth and simplicity of our purpose beyond the everyday details that necessarily cloud our minds and hearts as adults. We become less burdened by the world and more filled by the supernatural.
When we praise God like David did we step outside of our selfishness and pride and ambition and thereby submit to humility. We momentarily shed our pain and sorrows and troubles to give Honor and glory and accolade to the Creator of every living thing. Just as it’s impossible to smile and frown at the same time, it is impossible to remain unaffected internally when you put on this external armor of praise.
When our son died and the grief was overwhelming and consuming my best defense was to call on the holy name of Jesus and put on this armor of Praise. It gave God an avenue to lift me out of the blackness of pain and sorrow and into the light of His grace. And it worked and continues to work every single time.
Thank you Lord Jesus, I praise you and thank you and give you all honor and glory and praise. I love you and adore you and I thank you for being Lord of my life and Lord of my heart, I thank you for being intimately involved in every detail of my life. Thank you for your providence and your goodness. Thank you for Loving me and creating me and KNOWING me. You are Lord of Lords and King of Kings, you are my Lord and King. You are my savior and friend. Thank you Lord. I give you all praise and thanksgiving. I glorify your holy name. Thank you for all your creation. I Praise you Jesus for every good and holy thing. I praise you for all that is righteous and good. Thank you for your sacrifice of Love for me, thank you for the example you gave me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit living within me. I Love you Lord, I thank you and I praise you. I praise you Lord, I thank you Lord, I thank you Lord, I thank you Lord…..