All of us have moments when we feel discouraged by life’s circumstances. Our loved ones may try to lighten our load or lift our spirits, but unfortunately, their efforts can fall short. We wonder if we will ever emerge from today’s trying situation with our joy intact.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11 (NIV)
But I will keep on hoping for your help; I will praise you more and more. —Psalm 71:14 (NLT)
It’s good to know that our Father invites us to confide in him, to share our feelings honestly in prayer. He cares for us and understands our needs and weaknesses. We can draw near to him by singing psalms or hymns, or reflecting on his goodness and speaking well of him. Of course, there are times when this may seem too difficult, but even whispering a prayer of praise can usher in a sense of liberty and peace.
KEEP ON PRAISING, KEEP ON HOPING
The psalmist in Psalm 42 questions the reason for his despair; then he instructs himself to hope in God. The expression, “I will still praise him” signifies an inner determination and a forward-facing outlook. He persistently, continually, and repeatedly praises the Lord. This allows him to focus on God his Savior, the One who will bring deliverance and victory. To have hope in God is to wait expectantly for him. Since he is faithful to help, we can know that we will praise him again. This gives us at least a vision of ourselves rejoicing in the future.
Praising God in the hard times doesn’t minimize or deny heaviness of heart. Instead, it redirects our focus on who God is. He never changes. He promised never to leave or abandon his children, so we can count on his presence, even when our emotions can’t confirm it. He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
Related article: Praying Through Worry
PRAISE IS POSSIBLE
There have been times when I’ve thought, “I’ll never be encouraged.” Yet as soon as I begin to remind myself of His mercy and goodness, the clouds disperse. Now this doesn’t mean that those problems will suddenly disappear or that it will be smooth sailing from here on out, but it does mean that my face will brighten again and the weight of the burden will lessen. I’ll be able to experience the joy of the Lord in the midst of life’s storms and challenges.
It is possible to praise the Lord in hardship. In one sense, it’s a choice, not a feeling. It becomes a kind of personal battle cry. Even when our run has slowed to a crawl and our shout has died down to a whimper — we can wait on our good Father with fierce expectation. He is faithful and true. If we can’t praise him for our circumstances, we can praise him in spite of them.
Ultimately, it’s the Lord who heals the distressed soul. The Holy Spirit causes our hearts to overflow with hope. He turns the light on where once there was only darkness. There is power in the flow of the Spirit! Knowing he’ll meet us when we are most broken is the beautiful reality of living the abundant life.
Next up: Praying God's Promises: The Why and How Behind the Practice
PRAY AND REAFFIRM
When we think of praise, it may help to note that this includes thanksgiving, speaking well of God, confessing faith, and a vast array of adoring expressions. I think the enemy knows that as long as we wait for everything to line up before we praise the Lord, we’ll stay stuck a lot longer than we need to. We can still praise him because he’s worthy. We can still praise him for the Cross and the Resurrection.
True joy and peace don’t originate with us, but come to us as the gifts and fruit of God’s grace. May we always pour out our hurting hearts to him in prayer, and then reaffirm: “I’m still going to praise him. I have hope, he is faithful to help, and he is my God! Whether I understand everything or not, with an answer or without one, ‘I will bless the Lord at all times — his praise shall continually be in my mouth’ (Psalm 34:1).”