A magnificent bull elk was poised on the side of the road, his rack easily reaching 7 ft. tall. Kelly and I were driving home from Portland when we suddenly spotted him in the dark. We slowed to pass, gawking at his beauty; he stayed where he was just off the pavement looking proud and stately. My husband and I had just been taking turns listing things we were thankful for. We immediately added him to our list—the privilege of seeing this impressive creature and that he didn’t run in front of us.

On our way home from visiting our newest grandchild in the hospital —a beautiful baby girl, our whole evening was full of praise. At first we weren’t sure we would be allowed to see and hold her with all the corona virus restrictions, but we each got to go in for ten minutes to adore this brand new precious treasure.

In the middle of so much fear and uncertainty about the future, the whole world is on edge. Our cries echo David’s: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? ” (Psalm 13:1-2, NIV).

David’s songs and prayers are powerful, not only because of his gut-level honesty with God, but because He always comes back to the largeness of God and how small his problems are in comparison. And David’s difficulties were not small by any means! He spent years on the run from King Saul who wanted to kill him, one of his sons murdered his brother for raping their half sister, and the surviving son tried to take over David’s kingdom by force, just to name a few.

David’s delight in God, however, moves us to exult with him, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you….In the cover of your presence you hide them” (Psalm 31:19-20, NIV). The all powerful, ever-faithful Creator of the universe sees our pain and constantly cares for mankind, especially those who serve Him. 

Sometimes, when our worries are especially heavy, praise is a sacrifice. It’s all we can do to choke out the words. That’s why praise is often referred to in the psalms as a sacrificial offering to God. This act of obedience is the praise God treasures most, because it costs us dearly. He knows we need to express gratitude, not because He needs a pat on the back to make Him feel good, but because praising God is what WE need. Praise is imperative for hope to thrive.

This morning in Psalm 33 I paused after reading the very first verse, “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright” (Psalm 33:1, ESV). In other words, if you’re a believer it’s reasonable, fitting, and appropriate to speak words of praise to God. He is worthy. Expressing our love for Him shouldn’t depend on our health, jobs, whether we have a closet full of toilet paper, or if we still get to go on the trip we had planned. Even when our kids are out of school and at home…with us…every day…for months.

I know the word “upright” in this case means holy, blameless, or righteous, but another meaning came to mind. “Upright” can also mean standing up. As long as we’re not lying in a coffin somewhere our lips have work to do!

The corona virus has turned our world upside down and conversations are rife with complaints and speculation. I’ve been as guilty as anyone. But God has been challenging me to live in the moment and praise Him for what IS, right now. After all, the Rapture could happen today and all these troubles would immediately melt away in our JOY of being home with Jesus.

I mentioned earlier that Kelly and I were taking turns listing ten praises each. This is something I do every morning in my time with the Lord. Kelly and I like to say them to each other whenever we’re on trips or long car drives (it’s a great way to stay awake). Gratitude is contagious and energizing!

Here are a few items we’ve recently praised Him for:

* God is still on the throne and in full control

* Shelter, warmth, and peace

* Clean drinking water

* A home full of love and laughter

* Healthy children and grandchildren (lately increased)

* Friends to laugh and cry with, praising God for His awesome deeds

* An abundance of food

* Phones and Internet to stay connected even when we can’t meet together

* The indescribable joy of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell

* Sunshine on my skin (a medically recommended practice!) and cool wind on my face

What’s on your list?

Can I encourage you to read the following verses aloud? Maybe even read them together with your family or friends as you pray for those suffering in this crisis?

“Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22, emphasis mine, ESV).

#coronaviruspraise #praise #prayer #gratitude #blessings