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Suffering + Praise

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58

Hello! As we say in Texas, how’s the weather in your neck of the woods? Last night was windy, wet, dreary, and frigid but this morning was glorious with a bright glow of the sun and beautiful blue skies. Such a contrast within less than a 24-hour period. I am always amazed how fast conditions can change. My grandpa often referred to this by saying, “Things can change at the drop of a hat.” Of course, as a kid, I never knew exactly what that meant and besides, I never saw a hat adorn his head.

Psalm 22 was part of the reading plan today. Many of the words were familiar and the writing brought a variety of thoughts. I even read a few commentaries and translations while pondering. This passage is composed of two parts: a cry for help and a song of praise. I found it surprising how quickly the demeanor changed from the beginning to the end in this passage. It brought to mind a couple of words: suffering and praise.

Even though Psalm 22 is a clear depiction of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion, my wandering thoughts landed upon a question. What would it be like to praise the Lord with my entire being while undergoing intense persecution and pain? Am I even capable of doing this? Is my faith strong enough to claim God’s love and promises for me when He may seem so far away or silent? Then silence filled my mind for a brief pause. Why this take on Psalm 22? Oh yeah, it is you Holy Spirit!! You are prompting me to examine my life and assist me in my spiritual walk. (My light bulb still works at times! YIPPEE)

I don’t know about you but adding praise plus suffering seems foreign. However, lets reflect on Paul and Silas. In Acts 16, we find them in jail and bound by chains. Surprisingly, they are singing hymns to the Father and in the middle of the night none the less. This is an excellent example of followers praising God for who He is despite their circumstances. They were not thanking the Lord for their situation of course, but were reflecting on the Father’s promises and His steadfast nature. Can you imagine how quickly their perspective and disposition changed because of their devoted worship? I bet a counselor would agree that this act of thanksgiving was their essential source of physical and mental health. They stood steadfast and displayed the endurance of Job. WOW!

How vibrant is my spirit to praise continually when the storms of life come? Why do I wait until the glowing sun and blue skies appear again to give Him praise?

Almighty God is constant in all situations and walks of life. God never alters his character. Psalm 25:10 reminds us “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and His testimonies”. It is me that varies “at the drop of a hat” or situation. May I be refined to display 1 Corinthians 15:58.

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