“By Him therefore let us offer the Sacrifice of Praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
I am not certain if I ever really understood the concept of sacrificial praise. I had been praying all week for a little 2 ½ year old boy who was vaccinated with the flu vaccine, and was now severely ill and hospitalized. Although he was very sick, I somehow knew he was going to be alright. Yet, instead of freely feeling the act of praise, I felt extremely sad the entire week.
I only saw this child on those occasions when our paths crossed as his mother was picking him up from his babysitter and I was coming home from work. This little boy was always so happy to see me, using his infectious smile to welcome me into the building’s elevator as he was on his way out. So, it was with some surprise when I saw his mother without him that I said,
“Where’s the baby?” She looked down at the floor with complete sadness in her eyes. “He’s in the hospital.” “The hospital?” I said, a little surprised. “-What is he doing in the hospital? “I took him to get the flu shot, and he had a really bad reaction to the vaccine.” She said, Her eyes welling up with tears, “-He is not doing well.” We spoke for a few more minutes. Then I said, “I am going to pray for him, but you need to pray for him also. You are his mother, and your prayer is very important for him. God always answers a mother’s prayer for her children. -By the way, what is his name?” “D.J.” She said. “Okay, I’ll pray for D.J.” She took the elevator up, and I went for my walk.
For the next hour, I walked and talked with God, praying for D.J., pleading with God for the return of his smile, and a full recovery. Reminding God that D.J. had not had the opportunity to experience anything but his little toys and his mother’s love. He had not ridden a tricycle, reached puberty, had his first crush, or experienced the pain of a broken heart. All I could think about was his little body, little hands, and that smile. I walked with tears in my eyes.
I walked and prayed, but I have to tell you, I certainly did not feel like praising, I just felt sad. The kind of sadness you get when you focus on the problem and not the solution. I kept thinking about D.J. laying in the hospital on life support, and not the solution—the extremely powerful healing Love of Jesus Christ. I knew Jesus would work it out, but somehow I could not focus on the solution, only the problem.
Then it hit me, this is what God meant by sacrificial praise. This is what “sacrifice of praise” really means, and why it is called a "sacrifice" of praise. It is the praise we offer to God that comes out of the deep sadness we feel when we focus on the problem, not the solution. More specifically, it is when our focus is so muddled with the problem; we cannot see the miracle that is our life unfolding in our midst. —And, even though we feel like we can’t get out of bed to praise God for the very breath we take, we praise Him anyway!
It is why the offering of your praise is a sacrifice; you really don’t feel like offering it. It doesn't come out freely with jubilation and passion. You may feel the jubilation and passion after you begin, but it does not start out like that. You literally have to push through deep sadness or some other mood just to offer the praise of your lips. Nevertheless, if you could just see the other side as I imagine God sees it. Those unrelenting, deeply sad praises are the kind of praise king David wrote about in so many of his Psalms; the ones where he is running, hiding, dodging enemies, or fighting his way out. The ones where, although he cannot see the end—he knows God is with him. It is that praise, which is even more pleasing to God! It is the one where you are praising God, not because of something He’s done; not even because of something He is going to do; but, simply because He just is! —And, no matter how bad it gets, you know —you truly know, He is! More importantly, it is the realization that, how you feel simply doesn't matter, because you are going to praise Him anyway!
So today, push pass your listless, non-praising, dispassionate, tired self, and remember to say Hallelujah, Glory to God, because no matter what happens, whether you feel Him or not, God’s is right there with you! L.
*P.S. I saw D.J., he is out of the hospital and that fabulous smile is back! Hallelujah, Glory to God!
Study Reference: Hebrews 13:15, Psalm 142:1-7
From:"The Sacrifice of Praise." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell
photo: sculpture: pentateuque by fabien merelle