Week 6 Trust and Peace
The Sacrifice of Praise
It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare.[i]
raise is a Christian exercise that is purported to release beneficial endorphins more potent than those of an aerobic workout,[ii] but praise is not always comfortable. Perhaps that is why the Bible refers to praise as a sacrifice.
Under the old covenant God asked His people to make blood sacrifices. During this age, God has provided Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice so that daily sacrifices of blood are no longer necessary in order for us to have access to Him. In the face of such generosity of love, our hearts ought to respond automatically with thanksgiving and praise, but we sometimes suppress our well-hidden heartaches and turn away. Old covenant sacrifices were surely more uncomfortable to carry out than a sacrifice of praise, but still, we sometimes avoid our God and forfeit blessing as a result. This robs us of peace and tempts us to seek numbing distractions from things of the world, much as one might focus upon a crossword puzzle as a strategy to distract attention from an aching head or an upset stomach.
We do not praise in order to please God, but as a response to “seeing” God. Ahead of praise, we need the courage and the will to look to our maker. Focusing upon God requires the release of self-focus as we set aside our plans to correct ourselves, and place all our trust in Him. Psalm 123:2 speaks of the way servants keep their eyes upon their master to see what they will be instructed to do next. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord in this way, because praise isn’t something we create within ourselves; it is a response that comes when we turn our eyes to Him. Thanksgiving puts us in right relationship to Him, and the sacrifice of praise opens our hearts for cleansing from all that has caused us pain.
Disinfectant sometimes hurts, but it removes bacteria. Setting a broken limb is painful, but it allows the limb to heal straight. The treatment that brings healing does indeed sometimes hurt, but would we forfeit healing in order to save ourselves from the pain of the treatment? Of course not. When we praise God, tears may flow, heartaches may be revealed, and as hidden sorrows come to light we may feel uncomfortable indeed, but when the discomfort has passed, we experience peace.
The fruit of praise is so exquisitely pleasant that all other pleasures recede by comparison. When we praise God, He is present with us so that our spirits join with His. This intimacy satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. We do shy away from such intimacy, in part because we feel ashamed of our sins and failures, but when we come, just as we are, and experience the sweetness of His acceptance and love, praise bubbles forth, and in its wake we experience the sweetness of the peace He promised. Not as the world gives, but a much better peace He has given to us.
Praise the Lord!
Pray: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's” (Psalm 103:2-5).
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
…there is nothing on earth I desire besides you.