Lately I have been pondering the words: Sacrifice of praise.
For my lifetime, thankfulness has been something that bubbles up from within. Then was nurtured by my parents. One year my brother wrapped up a toothpick for my mom for Christmas…it was the family joke, “I don’t care if you get a TOOTHPICK for Christmas…you be sure to be thankful!” A job well done and I am a better woman for the lesson of a thankful heart.
This carried over in to my spiritual life as I found I had a Pollyanna(esque) type personality. In most things I can find something good in the toughest of circumstances. From this I find joy and a thankful heart naturally follow. My faith increases and God is glorified. (A bit more challenging lately and I have really had to apologize because God has had to do his own PR in light of our most recent episodes in our world.)
Lately I have found myself a bit more stuck. I have struggled to find the good. My heart can still be grateful but it is guarded and it is not the gushing overflow from which I typically find my reserve. (Because I cannot fully understand what I am about to share I hope it doesn’t completely mess you up.) Recently I sensed I ought to thank God for the current circumstances in which we are living. Not for the blessings that have flowed out of them–but the EXACT circumstances we are in. This is bizarre and seemed straight up insane. He has not caused the circumstances…but He is in control of them. In faith, I sensed I was supposed to thank him…despite…whatever…just THANK him. And so in an awkward–and (honestly) clinched teeth kind of way I did. I don’t think there was magic involved in the exchange but I can honestly say from that day forward I have felt lighter. I had been asking God for a long time for a “breath” prayer. You know…one where you feel stressed and don’t really know how to pray so you say something like, “give me strength,” “guide me,” or “help!” I never felt settled with any of my breath prayers until I tried on, “thank you.” I know it says to thank God in ALL circumstances and goes as far in that passage to say it is His will. (He doesn’t talk about His will that much–so I realized it was probably a pretty big deal. 1Thes.5:18) But still–I have never thanked Him for the hard stuff the really hard stuff like this before. The prayer felt a bit bizarre, yet I sensed some darkness lift. I believe the sacrifice of praise referenced in Hebrews 13 is just that: a SACRIFICE. It is not easy…just as placing Isaac on the alter was not easy. I feel this prayer has seemed to unlock some deeper stronghold that I cannot see or understand. It feels a bit like the mystery of forgiveness. When we choose to forgive we very often drop the weight of something that we have been carrying for a long time…and really something we have taken on as our own burden to bear. Something mysterious and miraculous has started to stir in my soul as I have begun to pray, “thank you.”
Found it appropriate to share as we lead in to this week of thankfulness. A bit like one who is just starting out to walk. I have wobbly legs and don’t fully understand the concept of my new endeavor. But I do believe this has been a powerful new approach to my stuck-ness. I am tired of crawling. I am learning our circumstances, both the ones we enjoy and the ones we endure, can end in gratitude. A sacrifice of praise brings change. Or it has for me…and to that I again respond wholeheartedly…thank You.
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Thankful!