From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
In my Bible’s footnotes, the word praise is exchanged for the word strength.
In praising Him, you invite him into your space, into your inmost being, you acknowledge him and give glory to him and his power. And it is then, that He comes, that His strength rescues us from our enemy and enables us to do what He has for us.
Strength, true strength, the lasting kind, only comes from the Lord. We can do nothing apart from him, it is God alone who enables us.
‘I love you, O Lord, my Strength.
The Lord is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and my horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes who were too strong for me.
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.’
Psalms 18: 1-3, 17, 32
As a family, we recently determined to sit quietly before the Lord to worship and praise.
Why is this so hard to do?
Distractions, some conflict, an argument, and more distractions sought our attention. Our hearts muddied and stretched thin, sitting still felt more like sitting on pins and needles.
Be still and know? How was that even possible?
The praise music just bounced off our anxious hearts; turns out, it’s quite difficult to choose to praise when your heart is not feeling it.
As we sat together in subdued silence struggling to praise Him, my mind wandered and recalled the worship music from my childhood.
As I recalled old worship songs, my mind automatically thought of my Mom. Often she would take a pause, in the midst of so much disorder and chaos, she would blast the family stereo with praise and worship music. Our stereo was huge, as big as a medium sized dresser with huge powerful speakers; booming and pounding, vibrations would rattle and spill throughout the whole house and even into the yards, it was inescapable.
My mom would sing along, praising the Lord wholeheartedly and with abandon. I can clearly remember her losing herself in praising Him fully and joyfully.
The random moments she would choose to do this seldom seemed ideal. My childhood was loud and messy. I grew up in a big Italian family, it was obnoxious with more than our fair share of chaos and dysfunction. Her timing would interrupt whatever else was happening, and sometimes it just felt downright annoying and inconvenient.
Nevertheless, she would do this, and inevitably, no matter the mood we were in, the lyrics would creep in and we would catch ourselves singing along as well. All these years later, I can still remember specific songs.
I think my mom must have realized that you have to fight to praise in this crazy world – that His strength came only after you yield and invite Him in. She knew that if she waited till everything was perfect, till we were all in a happy and willing mood, well, she would never have found the time or space to do it. She knew she wasn’t strong enough to make it without Him. She fought to know the Lord and to praise him in some very difficult circumstances.
My dad had his own way of fighting to be in the Lord’s presence. No matter what was going on in our life, he consistently took us to church. Whether we wanted to or not, like clockwork, we would attend services. Life was not perfect, but he knew the answer and our hope lay in seeking God. He faithfully brought us to Him in the only way he knew how, taking us to church was his way of fighting to be with the Lord while re-directing us to God.
How often have I wallowed in my own condemnation, letting shame keep me from entering into worship, from praising Him?
I want to feel worthy before I praise him.
First, I want to be better, to earn the right to be in his presence before I feel free and able to connect and have relationship with the Lord.
How laughable are my pitiful attempts!
How arrogant and proud to think I could ever be counted worthy by my own strength.
We can never be made worthy apart from Jesus. He wants all of us to give it up and just go to Him in the midst of our crazy chaotic dysfunctional days, bring all of our broken super messy selves to Him. He can handle us, and He is waiting.
It is only Him who can make us whole. It is only Him who can make us worthy and give us strength.
Will you choose to praise him even when things are messy, scary, chaotic, hard, dysfunctional, broken – or whatever else?
Will you praise him? Will you seek Him and acknowledge him even when you don’t feel like it, even when things are not going well?
‘In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and rest is your strength.
… yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him.”
Isaiah 30:15 & 18