Day 5: Praise … No Matter What
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me–holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49)
These verses were sung to the Lord by Mary in response to Elizabeth’s proclamation to her and affirmation of her. Overwhelmed with gratitude for her Savior, Mary glorifies and rejoices in God. We should all take note of her actions! God loves an appreciative heart from His servants.
Moses had one:
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” (Exodus 15:1-2)
“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.” (2 Samuel 22:47-50)
Nehemiah had one:
“O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.” (Nehemiah 1:5-6)
And we can find many more examples throughout all of scripture!
With her affections, emotions, and passions Mary glorifies God. She rejoices with exuberance. She is overcome with gratitude! Out of a thankful heart praise naturally flows. Are we thankful for “every good and perfect gift” that flows from above? For me, gratitude and praise flow easily when I perceive the outcome to be beneficial for me, but my praise and gratitude are woefully lacking when the benefit is not so obvious. Shame on me! If God is in control (which He is) and if God has my best interest at heart (which He does) should I not embrace with joy whatever He allows into my life, knowing that it is for my good? This is not just a mere thought–this is God’s command:
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. (Psalm 50:14)
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23)
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
I used to wonder why God would call praise sacrificial. Why would it be a sacrifice to praise Him? Now I realize that it is a sacrifice for a broken heart to praise Him; that it takes a sacrifice for a downcast soul to rejoice. Praise flows from the heart no matter what the outcome. When we begin to praise God our spirits begin to lift, our focus begins to change from ourselves–who are powerless) to Him–who is all powerful.
Jesus’ job description in Isaiah tells us the following:
“Provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)
A garment of praise–perhaps that means it is something we should clothe ourselves with every morning–regardless of our circumstances! Sometimes the praise is simply volitional–an act of our will–and that indeed can seem sacrificial. The twist comes, however, as soon as we begin to praise God. We find ourselves rising above our circumstances and not being overcome by them. Our focus is on Him!
Take It to Heart
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Praise the LORD, O my soul. (Psalm 103:22)