Trials can lead us to a greater dependency on God and a deeper trust in His sovereignty if we let them.
I’m reminded that in every situation I come to a crossroad and have a choice: I can pout or I can praise. I can turn away from God because I don’t understand or I can turn toward God in full assurance that His understanding is enough for the both of us – even if it hurts – even if anger lingers – even if doubt looms.
Have you been to these crossroads? These days of quarantine have us all there to some degree.
God shows us a powerful example of praise-over-pout behavior in chapter sixteen of the book of Acts. During the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, he and his ministry buddy Silas encountered a collision of faith and trouble while in Philippi.
After Paul cast out a demon that was terrorizing a young slave girl, he and Silas were seized by disgruntled Roman citizens and dragged to the marketplace before the rulers. They were then wrongfully accused of public disruption. And later stripped, beaten, and unlawfully jailed without a trial. After the flogging, Paul and Silas were taken to the inner cell of the prison, normally reserved for the most dangerous offenders, and their feet were placed in stocks.
Though they had every reason to sit and stew because of the injustice of their situation, Paul and Silas chose to trust in God’s plan and praise their Lord, Jesus Christ.
Though they had open wounds and would likely have been in severe physical pain, Paul and Silas chose to glorify the name of God.
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16: 23-25).
Then God shook the earth and the prison foundations and loosed the chains of the prisoners. In horror, knowing he would be held responsible for the escape of the prisoners, the jailer raised his sword to kill himself – but Paul stopped him. He and Silas hadn’t fled. They stood amidst their dark circumstances and spoke and sang with confidence in their God.
As a result, several people, including the jailer and his family, came to believe in Jesus Christ.
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all of his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household (Acts 16:29-34).
Though we won’t always rejoice in our circumstances, we are instructed to always rejoice in the Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4, 6-7).
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1: 2-3).
When we praise the Lord through, and in spite of, what we face our praise becomes our deliverance through the trial.
We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us… (Rom. 5:3-5a, NCV).
This world is broken and hardship is unavoidable. But, no matter what difficult times we encounter, God is worthy of our praise.
When we choose to praise instead of pout, we choose to trust God.
When we choose to trust God, the wounded world around us lifts their eyebrows in wonder – just like the Roman jailer.
Yes. Sometimes a sacrifice of praise is required.
Thank You for being trustworthy and praiseworthy! I ask that You will nudge me to trust You each time I approach crossroads of faith and trouble. In spite of the burdens on my heart and challenges in my path right now, I praise Your name and celebrate that Your hope will never disappoint.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE
Praise that perseveres begins with a determined heart, mind and soul. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Are you standing at the faith/trouble crossroads today?
How would choosing to trust God and praise Him help you deal with your circumstances?
Have I mentioned how much I love doing life with you? I DO!! So much. I’m grateful for the beautiful community of believers that gathers on my wall and social media to discuss these pressing life and faith matters. You are a treasure to me. Please leave a comment about where this pout & praise topic finds you and let me know how my team and I can PRAY for you today.
Warmly in Christ,
PS. There are times we just don’t know what to say to God. Times when our emotions are lit and we might not even want to talk to Him. Sara Hagerty joins me for a rich conversation about a simple practice of adoration that will help you experience God in the thick of life’s demands.
PSS. Coronavirus has us all quarantined. How can we process this new reality and make the most of our time inside? Kathi Lipp joins me on the GRACEOLOGIE podcast for a conversation about ways to sift through, organize and strengthen our minds, hearts and homes in a season of quarantine, loss and confusion. Listen here.