It might seem as if the world we know is crashing down right in front of our eyes, as if the entire universe is spinning hopelessly out of control. But the truth is that God is still in control. He is still on His throne. So, as Christians, now is not the time for us to cower in the corner as we shelter in place. No, now is the perfect time for us to draw even closer to our God and King.
How do we do that? The answer is the same as it was a month ago, a year ago, a century ago, and even millennia ago.
Psalm 100:4 directs us to,
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Now, I don’t know about you, but during this trying time, I want to advance my way farther than just inside of His gates. I want to be in His courts, and even beyond the veil, and right before His throne. I need to be safe and secure, right where He is during this unprecedented season.
Therefore, I believe that I need to do more than just be thankful; I need to praise His name. I need to let God and everyone else know just how thankful I am to be a child of the King of Kings in the midst of this global pandemic. I also need to be reminded that nothing will ever separate me from the love of God – not even COVID-19.
To do that, I need to understand the power of praise. Psalm 8:2 says,
Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
And Psalm 18:3 declares,
I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
Yes, praise is much more than an attitude or an emotion. It is a powerful weapon that saves us from our enemies, both seen and unseen. And as such, to be wielded as a weapon, praise demands the use of words or actions - or both. After all, praise is simply an outward expression of an inward love and assurance.
For example, I know that my husband and my children love me, but when they tell me or show me their love, it means so much more to me. I will never stop loving my family, even if they never remember to demonstrate their love to me ever again. Praise from my family is an extra blessing.
And since we were made in the image of God, I believe God is not all that different when it comes to praise. He loves us, and that love is unconditional, unending, and undeserved. Nothing I can do will ever make God love me more or less than He does right now. And amazingly, His love for me began even before the creation of the universe. His love is perfect and complete; yet, all through the Scriptures, I find verses that direct me to praise Him and bless His name.
Truly, God does appreciate our appreciation. But the Bible takes it even farther than that and says God dwells in and “inhabits” our praise, and that we dwell in His presence when we praise.
How amazing! When we praise Him, we enter into His presence, and in His presence, we find “fullness of joy.” It’s like a win-win situation. Our praise brings us into His presence, and His presence brings us an even greater heart of praise.
So, today, I say we should each find some way to show and tell God (and others) how much we love and trust Him. Instead of pondering all the terrifying news around us and passing along that fear and distress, let’s find our own unique way to praise His name.
If it seems almost impossible to praise Him right now, then do like the beloved children’s fictional character Pollyanna and make a “glad list.” Seriously, just take a pencil and a piece of paper and make a list of all the things He has done to deserve our praise, things that should make us glad to be His child.
Start with life, breath, food to eat, water to drink, a place to sleep, friends, and family. If that doesn’t help the glad list start growing, think about the ability to walk, talk, laugh, cry, and our five senses. Think about the ability to see colors, smell newly mown lawns, taste (Southern) sweet tea, and hear our children play and laugh – or even fuss and complain. Those are unbelievable blessings.
While you’re at it, go ahead and get those fussy, bored kids involved in compiling the glad list. It will take them all day to simply list one-by-one the toys and games most of our kids possess. And our grown-up possessions will take even longer to compile: cars, televisions, computers, and the list goes on and on.
Then, get serious with the glad list.
Write down every single thing you know for certain about God. Start with the fact that He alone is God. Above Him, there is no other. Next, list every attribute our amazing God possesses: He is merciful, gracious, kind, slow to anger, forgiving, healing, and the list is unending.
And what about His names? Go through the Bible, or use Google to investigate all the myriad names of God and what those names mean. If that does not make you shout, then your shouter must be broken – as one of my old pastors used to say.
Here’s the bottom line: If you are a Christian and you are downtrodden, distressed, and immobilized by fear or dread, there is an answer. Get into His presence. Start with thanksgiving and move on into praise. Be absolutely determined to make your way into His presence today. Do not be deterred or sidetracked.
Most certainly, do not let the Devil trick you into hearing the voices of the world over the voice of God. Get into His presence. And once you are there, once you are sitting at His feet and have received your strength and courage for the day, go out and spread the Good News. Praise His name loud enough for all to hear.
Yes, praise should be one of our strongest battle plans for this moment in history. As a body of believers, we must purposely take our praise outside of His courts and into the streets. Let’s loudly and clearly magnify and spread His name rather than the name of COVID-19.
And when we do that, when we give Him the praise due to His name, then we will not only spread His glorious presence, we will then bask in His presence as He basks in ours.