“I will offer up to you the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the Lord.”
I remember singing this verse to a song, acapella, as a little girl in church, surrounded by basses, baritones and sopranos.
Now, as an adult, I think of the words again. I remember sitting in the bathroom, hiding alone on one of my darkest nights.
Sacrifice of praise.
It took all my strength to say it. “I praise you” and tears fell hard and heavy.
That September day, I wrote:
“It takes all my strength to say, “I praise you.” Because they’ve forgotten me, they’re not keeping their promises, they’ve talked big, they’ve dropped balls, they’ve not honored their word… And you. Where are you at in this Lord? Rise up! Where is your shield? Where is your defense? So to say it out loud, “I praise you,” it really is a sacrifice. It really is painful.
Praising you forces me to give up pride, entitlement, anger, abandonment, victimization, fear, trauma. “I praise you God.” Sometimes, we want to cling to those other things instead because at least they feel real and familiar. But familiar spirits, I cast you away (again) in Jesus’ name. I will keep praising your name Jesus because there’s no one like you.”
We don’t usually think of thanksgiving as a sacrifice. Usually, it’s just a bubbling up that happens naturally. Like this good thing happens or is given and we just respond, “Oh thank you!” without any thought. Thanksgiving just flies out of our mouths as a response to good, true and beautiful things.
But in the last few months, I’ve finally grown into a deeper understanding of the sacrifice of thanksgiving, the sacrifice of praise. I will likely never forget that day. Exhausted mama, sitting on the bathroom floor after getting restless children to sleep. If you only knew a portion of the things that have happened since Dan died. It’s like the Lord took away my shepherd and then the snakes and the wolves and the racoons came out after me, to eat me alive. Gosh, that sounds dramatic but it’s an understatement.
I remember the cries of my heart. The pain in my pelvis and shoulders and back. And I forced myself to praise Him. I forced out a hallelujah. It was sincerely like childbirth. That moment was excruciating. I know several moments like it, but that one in particular, abandoned on every side, deceived, blindsided and left to my own… It was painful to praise Him. And yet…
I praise Him.
Praising God does something in our inner being. It strengthens us and makes a space of peace to dwell.
Just the Sunday before that moment, I heard the most powerful and compact sermon on praise by Pastor Mike from Healing Place Church in Louisiana.
I want to share some of those notes with you:
“Worship is the vehicle by which God strengthens and blesses His people.”
“Worship is all about the presence of Jesus. It’s not about performance or preference, it’s about presence.”
“Worship gives you a great perspective. It helps you focus on what really matters: who we are, and who God really is.”
“There’s no better time to worship God than in the midst of a problem. You send praise into that problem first and often He’ll send confusion into the enemy’s camp. When you worship God in the midst of your problem, then He brings kingdom possibilities.”
“Remember Paul and Silas in prison, in the middle of the darkest night, the chain’s fell off of not just them but off of everyone else around them. The doors flew open! Not just to get them out but because God was trying to break in! Because God inhabits the praises of His people. So create space to worship God. Praise God before you see the miracle.”
“Praising God after you see the miracle is gratitude, but praising God before the miracle is faith.”
Often, when I finally get the girls down, the dishes and laundry done, lunches made, and the dog walked, I finally take time to lament. I finally do some grief work. And that’s healthy and super important, even if it costs me my normal early bedtime. It’s only a season. But, my energy is scarce and my time is short. My lament usually ends up in worship and in peace. But I’ve been missing the presence of God, the perspective shift, the protection that comes from beginning in worship. This message challenged me to keep praising and pressing in.
Pastor Mike went on to say:
“If we can raise the level of our worship, we step into a new realm of power. An untapped power is available to us. Remember the story of Jericho. You feel like you’re going in circles, like you’re going crazy. You’re not going crazy. You ‘re marching around your Jericho. We offer Him our surrender and He deposits strength and grace we wouldn’t have on our own. Praise goes up and walls come down. And all the sudden, the impossible becomes possible. Some of you are just one praise away from your breakthrough.”
I feel like he is describing my life. I surrendered all, ALL, and God has given me a strength and a grace that everyone knows is not my own. It’s from Him.
When Pastor Chris sent me off to Colorado, she told me (quite prophetically) to keep praising God in the storm. My forecast was clear skies and sunny. But I was wrong.
Then I hit another tough wall recently. Deceit, manipulation, lies. So painful. And in the face of really difficult decisions that I never imagined I’d have to make without Dan by my side. That day, I got a call from a new and already dear friend, Ms. Mary Jo Pierce. She and Ms. Terrie called and basically told me to keep praising God in my storm.
Even though it was painful, I praised Him. In the moment, that can feel kind of foolish. But in hindsight, I can vouch for it.. In the face of impossibilities, He did make things possible. And the God who calms the storm reminded me that He’s given me the authority to do the same, in Jesus’ name. And as I praised Him and as I told the storm to be still, the winds and the waves quieted. And finally, He made a way where there was none.
Oh, friend. Because He is good, praise Him! For your own good, praise Him!
Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, no matter how excruciating. I think comparing this to childbirth is fair. And in the same way the pain is comparable, so is the life-bearing, life-giving reward. Praise the Lord for who He is. Thank Him in advance for what He will do.
While you wait for Him to rise up, lift up your praise.
Truly, this is the single best teaching on worship I have ever heard. Have you ever met someone in the thick of a storm and their ability to still be thankful and full of praise just baffles you? Then let me challenge you to listen to this. I’m not interested in wasting your time. But if you trust me, spend the 45 minutes while you run or fold laundry this week and take a listen. Click here.