Return to Praise

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the year my teammate and I spent living in a rural border village. In many ways, it was one of the hardest years of my life (except perhaps 2016), and it is only by God’s grace I survived. I had a lot of unhealthy emotional patterns, and the Enemy of our souls was out to kill and destroy. There were so many daily frustrations and challenges that, individually, would have been stressful but combined drained much life out of my soul. That maybe sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I was in pretty sorry shape when we finally made the decision to move.
Every day my teammate and I would brew coffee and sit on the tile floor of our shared bedroom to pray. Sometimes (maybe often) we would cry together, broken-hearted over Cambodia and our own hearts, completely devoid of energy and saddened over the lack of fruit, or just plain homesick. We cried out to Jesus in those prayer times, speaking words of Scripture and claiming those promises for this village and our own lives. We clung to the gifts, even when it was difficult to see them, turning them into words of praise. We turned on music when it felt like the words wouldn’t come, soaking and listening and allowing the lyrics to speak our prayers for us.
There are many painful memories and hurtful things from our time in the village, but those prayer times are actually a precious memory to me. God was teaching me about worship. He was teaching me to draw close to Him in the pain, to keep my eyes on Him because He is worthy of worship even from the wilderness.
Jesus is reminding me of these memories and bringing me back to a place of worship. I’m not musical by any stretch of the imagination (my family normally ends up doubled over in laughter over our poor attempts at “Happy Birthday”), but I’m starting to incorporate singing into my daily time with the Lord. I’m beginning my list of the things I’m grateful for each day after a stretch of pausing that practice, and my eyes are opening even more to the tender ways God cares for me in the littlest of things. He is drawing me into a new place of worshiping Him no matter what the situation is around me or whether I’m “feeling it” or not.
I’ve been challenged recently by these two quotes:
“The stability of the world depends on the rejoicing in God’s works…. If on earth, such praise of God does not come to pass…then the whole order of nature will be thrown into confusion”.
– John Calvin
“Praise Him in the midst of the darkness. Praising God while the tumult swirls is true spiritual warfare. And wait in anticipation for the day you see God more clearly”.
– Mary Demuth, Beautiful Battle
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