Do we praise God at all times? Do our words and actions continually give glory to God? Loving like Jesus means praising God throughout our lives, even when our circumstances may be difficult. And as we praise God, we point others to Him.
As we praise God throughout the ups and downs of life, we are providing an opportunity for others to be drawn to Him. As we worship Him in our words and actions, others will notice. Loving God with all our hearts points others to Him. It is a reflection of our trust in God and communicates peace to a watching world.
God is constantly at work in our world and in our lives as individuals. Sometimes God’s hand is easy to see, other times our hearts and minds are full of questions as to His plans and purposes. But at all times, we can choose to focus on God’s blessings in our lives and praise Him for them. We can choose to trust and speak truth to our feelings when doubt creeps in. God is gracious and merciful; He is lovingly working out His plans for those who love Him.
In Psalm 67, the psalmist pleads for God’s favor. He writes, “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us”. The psalmist says that the outcome of God’s blessing in our lives, is “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations”. And then the call is given for everyone to praise God. “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”
God is guiding the nations. He is guiding our lives. We can take great confidence in these truths and rejoice in them. We can be glad and sing for joy as we consider God’s sovereign control in the world. And as we praise God, we can draw others to do the same. The world is looking for answers, for hope, for peace, for security in these uncertain times. Life is not always easy, but our hope in God and our ability to praise Him is not at all deterred by difficult circumstances.
When we look at Jesus’ earthly ministry, we can see many situations that were difficult for Him. Even though He was God in flesh, Jesus was also fully human. He faced temptation. He faced loneliness. He faced despair. He faced injustice and ridicule. Ultimately, He endured an undeserved death for our sake.
Yet, through all of these circumstances, Jesus submitted to the will of His Father. He gave glory to God in the highs and lows. His attitudes and actions brought praise to God. As he encountered Satan’s temptations in the wilderness, Jesus honored His Father by responding with the truth of Scripture. Throughout His earthly ministry, when Jesus was confronted with false accusations, He praised God by responding with grace. When Jesus was burdened in the Garden of Gethsemane with His impending crucifixion, He gave glory to God by submitting to the Father’s will.
Jesus is our example. As we face challenges, injustices, confusion, and instability, we can still choose to express our love for God by praising Him. We can still choose to express our gratitude for His many blessings. We have a choice about our focus – we can despair, or we can praise.
In my own family, we have faced many changes in recent weeks. My twin sons are finishing out their college freshman year at home, taking their classes online and missing out on campus life. My daughter, who is graduating from high school next month, will not get to have the graduation ceremony she had hoped for or have the opportunity to attend the usual senior year celebrations. (And can I just say that having four teenagers eating three meals a day at home has sent our grocery budget through the roof)!
My husband and I have become teachers whose classrooms are now relegated to Zoom sessions. My piano students have been attempting to have their lessons over FaceTime. And all of the meetings for our new church plant have been moved online as well.
Life has changed, yet in the midst of it all, God is still faithful, and we have found blessings in spending more time together as a family and in seeing the Lord provide for our needs. We have sought to honor God in our attitudes and thank Him for these blessings.
We have also looked for ways that we can praise God in actions of serving. We have taken meals to others, distributed food to those in need, and found ways to support our local family-owned restaurants. Focusing our eyes on others and seeking to help them is one way we can praise God in our actions.
Loving like Jesus means loving God by praising Him in our attitudes and our actions – no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I recently finished reading a book about a holocaust survivor, and I was amazed at the hopeful attitude she maintained through her horrific ordeal. God offers us ultimate hope and He is worthy of our praise at all times. Let the peoples praise Him! Let all the peoples praise Him! Let us praise Him!