This is from an article I wrote a long while back for Examiner.com and was expanded upon a few years ago. I am going to expand this topic even further in this new series in order to build upon the series I just completed about how Paul was able to find the joy amidst his trials. Now that we know how to find the joy, it’s important to fully understand how to praise God in the midst of our trials because, I think, that can be the hardest part of finding the joy. This will be a six part weekly series and I begin with the introduction from the previous article to set the tone and give us the first step.
Most Christians have heard many times how we are to praise God in the storm, but what has always frustrated me is that nobody has ever told us how to do that. It’s hard to just begin feeling thankful when you’re in the midst of a financial mess or a loved one’s death. Merely understanding that you should do something doesn’t help you do it.
All devotionals on this topic will tell you to read the Bible and pray. This is obvious since we are trying to get closer to God and further away from our pain or struggle. This is also something we should do when we are not struggling. But just reading the Bible when you are struggling may not help your attitude turn to gratitude and you may not even know how to pray for a situation, especially if it has been a long and confusing one.
There are many devotionals on thankfulness that talk about this so I’m not going to spend much time on it since you’ve probably read enough of them to quote them verbatim. I’ll just say that it’s important to continue to pray and read the scriptures even when we are at our wit’s end and even when we are no longer able to envision that God would help us because, the moment we no longer seek God, we begin to drift away from Him. “Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.” -Psalm 119:143
After many years upon this earth I have found some things that have helped me to become more thankful and bring me to the point where I can praise God during the storms of my life. By the way…I wrote this as much for me as I did for my readers.
1. Start small and build
Thank Him for whatever blessings you can think of, even if you have a hard time coming up with things you are thankful for and even if you don’t feel very thankful when you write it or say it. There is an old saying, “act as if.” If you begin to thank God for the blessings, no matter how small, in your life, you will begin to see more and feel it more as you go.
Somehow my attitude changes when I concentrate on the little blessings. I remember an old saying my relatives had when I was a child, “thank God for small favors.” It has become a popular secular saying that has come to mean something quite different so I don’t suggest you actually say this to yourself. I think it must have started out meaning that we should thank God for the small blessings in our lives to help us see the blessings He has given us. Unfortunately, what it has come to mean is a snarky commentary that God only grants us small favors.
See how your attitude changes when you say, “thank God for small favors” instead of “thank you, Lord, for these little blessings?” One suggests that’s all we expect the Lord to give us and the other reminds us that these are just the beginnings of blessings God wants to shower upon us. That one little communication change changes everything.
Think back to all the times when you had just missed a disaster. How do you think that miracle happened? Envision what God must have been doing to protect you and then feel the love that lead God to that act. I remember a time when we drove from California to ARIDzona to visit my folks. On the way there, we heard the brakes begin to screech. All the men at the event thought it wasn’t a major issue so we didn’t drive the car during our visit and headed home where we planned to have them repaired. There was a great deal of traffic that holiday on the way back and got progressively worse on that six hour drive home. We were able to make it all the way home and, as we coasted into the garage, the brakes completely failed leaving usunharmed and safely in our garage. Thank you, Jesus, for all the disasters we avoided that night alone!
Think back to all the times when NOTHING bad happened. What disaster might have occurred? Thank Him for those as well. How many times were you thinking of going to XYZ when something changed your mind and you narrowly avoided a known disaster? My husband once decided not to go to work one day because the only route there (70 miles one way) was covered in snow and notorious for closure. Later we found that many of the people who traveled that road were stuck down the hill unable to get home for a day or two. And what about all the other situations we have no idea we could have found ourselves in?
Praising God during a storm in your life, especially one that you’ve endured a long, long time, is not easy. It takes some work. It takes searching hard for any little shred of joy you can find and hang on to. But it’s worth the time and effort to build a habit because there will always come times in your life when things are even more difficult to handle than you ever thought they would be and that’s exactly the time you need to praise God in the storm!
I’ll be back next week with another installment…until then, I pray for your blessings in the whatever storm you find yourself.