Thursday, January 20, 2011

Praise in Spite of Pain

I got an email the other day from a friend, right after I had preached on Psalm 40 and the similarities to Psalm 70. After that, I read through a short book by Matt Redman, The Unquenchable Worshipper. All those thoughts began to come together, and I wanted to connect a few pieces.

First, Psalm 40 and Psalm 70. Turns out the two Psalms are the same from the end of verse 12 in Psalm 40 to the end, and all of Psalm 70. I talked on Sunday about how the lament part can be an ingrained response, whereby, no matter what happens we still fall back on "I am poor and needy". We can start to change the refrain which is what Psalm 40 seems to do, only to find ourselves back in the same rut.

I was thrilled then to see how David Youngdale, a sometimes reader of this blog, put together another piece of scripture.

"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
-- Acts 16:25
Singing and praising and thanksgiving all go together.
Paul and Silas had been beaten with many stripes, cast into prison, their feet were in the stocks. But at midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God. Aloud. And the prisoners heard them.
Most people in similiar circumstances would have griped and complained something like this.
Silas: Paul, are you still there?
Paul; Silas, where else could I possibly be?
Silas: I'll tell you my poor back is hurting me so bad. I don't understand why God sent this on us. I don't understand why God let this happen to us. He knows I've tried to serve Him and do my best.
That kind of praying would have gotten them further in instead of out. God didn't have them thrown in jail. The devil did. But there's truth and instruction here to help us in our midnight hour, the hour of test, of trial, when the storms of life come. That's a time to pray and praise and sing and give thanks!
Confession: I praise and thank God at all times. I don't ever have a "poor old me" attitude. I keep an attitude of praise.

I found Matt Redman's commentary on unquenchable worship helpful. He talks about how the ways to put out a fire are to remove one of the three elements: Heat, Oxygen, or Fuel. But, I have to admit my favorite part of the story was his citation of an event involving Charles Wesley.

None of these incidents or stories deny that there is pain or hurt in the world or in our lives, just that God is somehow greater than all of them. Paul and Silas were not healed of their injuries. Charles Wesley did not miraculously find himself standing on a solid floor on an upper level again, nor does the Psalmist stop having trials and tribulations as life continues, but in the midst of it all, somehow, someway, the desire to worship and praise overwhelms the spirits of those who are at work for God.


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