TRADING PAIN FOR PRAISE
When I was younger, I would watch my mom and several other women in church “get the Holy Ghost”. To be honest, it used to scare me TO DEATH and I’d be so embarrassed. The loudest of shrieks and moans would fill the sanctuary for what seemed like hours. Ladies sitting next to us used to grab me and my sister and move us further down the pew so that the ushers could fan my mom and rub her back. I would see other women fall out on the floor, slips showing, makeup running, and hair pieces hanging on by the grace of God! I would always wonder why all of that was necessary. When people would ask how church was, I would immediately pipe up and say, “Mom and Sis. So-and-so got the Holy Ghost!” And I’d even imitate what they did. As I got older, witnessing these moments never stopped. And I began to have moments of my own.
True praise to God can cost you nothing and everything at the same time. But overall, praising God results in an awe of God’s power, love and grace for all of us. Throughout the Bible, we consistently see passages of scriptures that tell us to praise God because He is good and He is worthy to be praised and let everything that has breath praise the Lord. We can praise God simply because He is God. We can praise Him because we have breath in our bodies, minds to think about His goodness, ears to hear His holy and righteous word, eyes to see all of the things He has created for us, mouths to speak and spread the gospel, and hearts to love as God loves us. Let me just keep it real for a second: I even praise God when I eat some good food. One of my good praises came when I ate at Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles for the first time. To this day, I will not ever leave Columbia, SC, without a plate again. Talking about “Lord bless the hands that prepared the food…” YES LORD YOU BETTA BLESS KIKI AND THE GANG! So serious.
So we praise God for the “common” blessings or the obvious grace that He has given us. But then there’s that kind of praise that can erupt from some undercover deliverance and behind the scenes breakthroughs. Some people’s praises to God are costly. You never know why someone is shouting as loud as they are or why they can’t sit still. People can walk around smiling on the outside, but they can be screaming for help on the inside. You just never know what they’ve just come out of or what they are praying to come out of.
Each and every time I think about specific situations that seemed impossible to overcome at the time, the emotions and thanksgiving to follow are uncontrollable. Where does my praise come from? It wasn’t that long ago that I would experience these dark thoughts. And I mean dark. I used to have thoughts about what it would be like for my family and friends if I was no longer with them. Other days, I would prepare for that to take place: make sure I had all of my important documents for life insurance and bills and passwords to everything set and ready to go. I used to wake up and say “Lord, if my appointment with death is today, then I’m ready.” I would think of different scenarios in which I could just… die. I was tired. I felt alone. I felt like a failure. I felt like a disappointment and a nuisance to my family. I was consumed by grudges and past hurt. I was stressed about finances. The list goes on and on. These thoughts consumed me for months on end. One night, I came to a point (which I know it was most definitely the prayers of the righteous and the power of the Holy Spirit) that I stopped carrying this depression and I began to weep. And I wept something serious… probably a whole 2-Liter worth of tears. So I began to praise God. I was in the car and I turned to the song, “You Keep Me” by Travis Greene. And let me just tell you, praising God will transform the spiritual environment that you are in. When you usher in the Spirit of God and let Him have His way, it is inevitable that you become overwhelmed with love and the realization that you are kept by His power and grace alone. So in this song, they say “over and over, You keep on keeping me.” I had to pull the car over on the highway (the first of many times). It was at that moment I realized that God has kept me through sooooo much hell and highwater that He probably face-palmed Himself when I wanted to give up. In His heavenly language I could hear Him saying, “Girl! Do you not remember when I came through for you on this, this , AND this? Can you not remember when I opened this door for you? How quickly you’ve forgotten about when I protected you from these people over here! Get yourself together. I am that I am. I will be all that you need. You need peace? I am. You don’t have any joy? I am. You need food for the next two weeks? I am. You need a friend right now? I am. You need your mind kept? I AM.”
God was, God is, and God will be. And for that, I praise Him. So when people talk about God keeping their minds, ya’ll just get the fans ready because I will lose it. One thing about praising God that I’ve come to realize is that it has to start internally. It has to consume your mind, pierce your heart, and overwhelm your spirit before it manifests externally. And it doesn’t always have to be this big scene for me (like my mom was doing LOL). Sometimes, I just lift my hands and the tears flow. Other times I shout and other times I just rock back and forth like the Mothers. But it is impossible for me to sit still when I know God has moved as extensively as He has in my life. And don’t get me wrong- I used to be reluctant in participating in praise and worship because of what people would say. But remember- it never matters to God how jacked up and deep in your mess you are. He will reach down and pull you from the depths of your sin and darkness because that’s How much He loves you. I thank God that there is not a place too far, a hole too deep, or problem too big that He can’t bring us out of. Even when we don’t deserve His love and forgiveness, He extends it to us anyway.
There will be days when it is just hard to pray, thank God, or praise Him. It is in those moments that the adversary wants you to keep your mind off of God and focus on your issues. But it is when we focus on God that He will step in and bring peace to our situations. So push past the busy schedules or frustration or hurt and allow your heart to have a little praise break. Praise breaks remind us to be grateful for what we have. Praise breaks remind us to keep the faith when we want to give up. And lastly, praise breaks allow us to be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit and refuel us on this Christian journey.