Praise the Lord Anyway!
Your enemies have mocked me, O LORD; they mock your anointed king wherever he goes. Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen! (Psalm 89:51-52)
It’s easy to praise God when life is good. It’s a gorgeous spring day . . . praise the Lord! I just got a raise . . . praise the Lord! My doctor gave me a clean bill of health . . . praise the Lord! I got an “A”‘ on my final exam . . . praise the Lord!
But what about when life isn’t good? The wind chill factor today is minus 25 degrees . . . praise the Lord? I just lost my job . . . praise the Lord? My doctor says it’s cancer . . . praise the Lord? I’m going to fail that class . . . praise the Lord?
Psalm 89 exemplifies praising God when life is hard, praising God anyway. This psalm begins by singing of God’s unfailing love (89:1-2). Moreover, all of heaven will praise God’s great wonders (89:5). God’s faithfulness to his people is a cause for rejoicing (89:9). This faithfulness is centered in God’s covenant with David and his promise that David’s dynasty will go on forever (89:19-37). But then Psalm 89 takes a dark turn, even accusing God of renouncing his covenant with David (89:39). The psalmist cries out, “O LORD, how long will this go on? Will you hide yourself forever?” (89:46). The penultimate verse of Psalm 89 laments, “Your enemies have mocked me, O LORD; they mock your anointed king wherever he goes” (89:51).
But then comes the startling conclusion: “Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!” What? Praise the Lord who has allowed his people to suffer, who has strengthened the enemies of Israel, whose unfailing love seems to have disappeared? Praise this Lord? Now?
Yes, that’s where Psalm 89 leaves us, without explanation, without apology. Yes, there is an unresolved tension here, something that can’t be rationalized away. The psalmist shows unsettling freedom in his protest against God, even accusing God of breaking his promises. Yet, he ends on a note of praise, and not just praise, but eternal praise. In the midst of pain and suffering, praise the Lord! When you can’t figure out what God is doing, praise the Lord! When God feels very distant, praise the Lord!
I’m not suggesting that this is easy to do. In fact, I find this to be exceptionally difficult. Thus, I am challenged by today’s psalm to do what does not come naturally, to praise the Lord at all times, to praise the Lord anyway.
Praising God anyway, when we’re in the midst of difficult times needs a little context to be seen from the correct perspective.
While we were yet sinners, God showed His love for us by giving His Son, Jesus, to bear our sins as He died on the cross. Jesus’ death reconciled man’s sin and sinful nature with the holiness of God. To partake of that reconciliation, we must put our trust in Jesus as our Savior . . . not by our works, but even to those who believe on His name.
We were less than nothing and have been given everything.
So, back to praising God even in difficult times. That’s a bit like walking along and stubbing your toe, quite painfully I might add, and just when you’re ready to complain to God about it, you see that you’ve stubbed your toe on the marble steps leading up and into the grandest mansion the world has ever seen . . . a mansion that God has just given to you.
And that comparison utterly fails when we really think about what wretched worms we were in God’s eyes, and then the enormous sacrifice God made to be able to adopt us into His family as His sons and daughters.
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me . . .
So, when events take a nasty turn for us during our short time down here, perhaps we can do a bit better about praising God anyway, in view of our riches for eternity up there with God.