Gratitude = Praise

Refiner's Fire--Photobucket“A refining pot is for silver, and a furnace for gold, and a man according to his praise.” Proverbs 27:21 (Young’s Literal Translation)

Many years ago, during a Sunday morning worship service, our pastor knew of the difficulties we were going through. The Lord moved on his heart to speak. God said to us: “You choose.”

Fast forward about two decades later: different difficulty, same God. This time He said to me during a time of quiet meditation and prayer: “War through worship.”

How we meet the challenges and catastrophes in our lives is up to us. We make a choice. Do we focus on the overwhelming circumstances we are in, the odds which seemingly can’t be overcome, our helplessness and hopelessness, or do we focus on the One Who is Sovereign over all, the One Who loves us with an everlasting love?

When we worry, fret, fuss, and whine, we are focusing on ourselves. By choosing to praise and worship Him, we demonstrate that we have placed our trust in the only One Who can get us out of the colossal mess we are in.

I vividly remember a time, not that many years ago, when our house was about to be foreclosed (for the second time), our daughter’s college tuition was seriously past due and they told us (rightly so) that if it wasn’t paid she would have to withdraw, and we were receiving almost daily phone calls from creditors. It was an absolutely terrifying time in the life of our family. Many nights I lay awake, not able to sleep for the fear that threatened to drag me into a place I desperately didn’t want to go. The only way I could get to sleep was to thank God for everything He had so richly blessed me with: every breath I took, every one I loved and who loved me in return, a bed to sleep in, hot water to bathe in, clothes to wear, food to eat, promise after promise in His Word, and last but certainly not least, a Savior.

I made a choice then that continues to carry me. I chose to have a grateful heart. I chose to place my faith in the God Who loves and cares for me. I chose to war through worship. Was it easy? Absolutely not! It took every ounce of pure grit and will I could muster. Sometimes, just making it through to the end of the day was a major victory. You know what I found? God graciously gave me another day to choose whether or not to praise Him. What a gift!

Since my husband died, people have been so incredibly good, kind, and generous to me, but I have seen the questions behind some of their eyes: “Why isn’t she falling apart? Why does she seem so calm? That just isn’t normal!” They are right, it isn’t “normal.” God has supernaturally carried and strengthened me these past five months.

You see, God was there when Charles started to feel unwell. God was there when I drove him to the Emergency Room, knowing he was in serious trouble, as we hit red light after red light. God was there when I frantically pushed him in a wheelchair into the E.R. and couldn’t get them to understand or believe how sick he was. God was there when they shocked his heart time after time after time after time trying to get it to beat normally again. God was there when I finally told them to stop–knowing Charles wouldn’t have wanted that to go on any longer. God was even there as I sat in that cold, stark room with him at the end, staring at all the evidence of what modern medicine could not do.

I could sit there with what was left of this man I had loved so deeply because I knew where he was and was grateful for it. If I had focused on what had just been lost, I would have been lost. Instead, I chose to be grateful for all that Charles had just inherited. I chose.

Now lest you think I am taking credit for all of this, I am not. I know exactly where the strength came from to meet the challenges of that night (and every other night of my almost sixty years). Without the grace and mercy of God, I would have fallen apart. I only know this: I did my part by choosing to have a heart of gratitude for the thirty-five years I was given, not anger over the years which would not be. God has miraculously carried me from the moment of that decision.

I know this without any doubt: gratitude = praise; praise = worship; worship = victory. No demon from hell can stand in the presence of praise to our great God.

But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
Psalm 22:3-5 (NKJV)

No matter what you are facing today, it ultimately comes down to this:

You too must choose.

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

Desert Song

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides.

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame.

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here.

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand.

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here.

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship.

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here
You are, You are here my Lord.

And this is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow.

Songwriter–Brooke Gabrielle Fraser
Published by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music