Have you ever wondered whether we should praise God for everything that happens to us? I believe that we have sound biblical counsel to praise God in every situation and for every situation. The Bible talks of a sacrifice of thanksgiving and a sacrifice of praise. (Ps. 116, Jer. 33:11, Heb. 13:15) It isn’t all that hard to praise and thank God for the things that make me happy. That doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to me. But to praise Him when I am hurting and bad things have happened or are happening, I have to put aside my feelings and die to self. I have to look with eyes of faith at the goodness of God, and by faith take hold of His promises. To praise Him in my pain is a choice to trust that He does not lie and will make all things work together for good for me because I do love Him and know that He has called me. Paul tells us to give thanks for all things, and in all things. (Eph. 5:18, 1 Thess. 5:18) He says that the things that happen to us are the will of God. In Phil. 4:4-7, Paul also tells us to rejoice always, not to worry, but instead take our requests/problems to God with thanksgiving. When we choose to do this by faith, we can also claim His peace that passes understanding.
James tells us to count it all joy when we have trials. This again has to be by faith, because trials don’t feel good. James says that the trials produce patience, if we let them. (James 1:2-4)
Peter tells us to rejoice at fiery trials because we are partaking of Christ’s sufferings and when His glory is revealed we will have exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12, 13)
We can rejoice in our trials because we trust Him. (Ps. 33:18-22)
I really love the practical counsel in the book Ministry of Healing. It has a whole chapter that gives me reasons to praise God in my trials. It is called Help in Daily Living.
God uses trials: They show me my defects so that they can be corrected. They prepare me to do His work. And they purify me. I need all this! Often my plans fail so God’s plans can succeed. This is really good; His plans are always better than mine! I am never really called to sacrifice anything- even the good that God asks me to surrender He is using to give me something better. In heaven I will see that the prayers I thought God didn’t answer, as well as my deepest disappointments, in reality were my greatest blessings. I can’t find peace until I make a complete surrender. These really are all things to praise God for, but they have to be seen through eyes of faith. It’s not always easy to do or even easy to remember that we should.
I have a friend that recently went through a rough divorce. For months we prayed together and claimed God’s promises. Many times her children joined us as well. Not long after her divorce she called me and told me that she had been talking with a friend and heard herself telling her friend the same thing I had been telling her all this time. “Praise God for the blessings He has planned to give you through this trial.” For the first time, she confessed to me that when we began praying together she was annoyed every time I said it. And I said it a lot! and in many different ways: Jehoshaphat and the choir going out before the army, Paul & Silas singing praises and the prison doors being opened, my own testimonies of how God has answered my prayers when I have chosen to stop griping and start praising Him for His will being done in my life.
We talked about Job as well. Job praised God in all his trials but he still went through more. We looked at the blessings God gave him after the trials. God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we think is best when we praise him. I shared with her an experience I had almost 20 years ago. I had one toddler and was pregnant with our 2nd child. We had chosen for me to stay home with our children. But going from two incomes to one is hard. One Friday, my husband and I knelt down and gave God our finances. We surrendered it to His will. Monday, my husband was laid off. No income was definitely not what we had planned! And yet, God used the trying situation to answer so many of my prayers- including our prayer about finances. Looking back, I could trace the hand of God, showing my friend how God really does do for us that which we would choose for ourselves could we see the end from the beginning, if we let Him.
In our recent phone call, my friend said that she laughed when she found herself giving the same ‘annoying’ counsel. The beautiful thing was she was also able to share her testimony of choosing to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving in the midst of her turmoil. She was able to encourage her friend by sharing how God was already using the situation to bless her family, and answer her prayers. And the blessings were because of the fiery trial she had gone through, not in spite of them.