Praise and Redemption

Posted 6/08/2008 by smartblackboy in Labels: , , ,

Whether you are religious or not, whatever your faith, dealing with the idea of God is something you have encountered in life.

I write from a Christian perspective informed by Baptist teachings and Catholic theology with a high awareness of the other world religions and of course a sprinkling of Reformation theology.

When I was a young boy I would go to my black Baptist church and sometimes would wonder at all the theatrics going on. People would scream, shout, clap, cry, hop, hoot, and holler - all in the name of this idea called Praise.

From my perspective the extreme display of emotions just did not seem necessary.

Was it not enough to pray earnestly? To clap loudly? To sing songs? To mean it on the inside?

Why all the moving around, why all the shouting, why the tears?

When I had just enter adulthood I met a girl who would become my girl friend at a church. Everything was going right in my life and it was easy to praise God. It was easy to pray. It was easy to go to church. It was easy to realize that I had much to be thankful for.

However, a year later life changed - illnesses were discovered, relationships broken, dear friends moved away, disappointments happened - the world seemed dark.

And it was hard to say hallelujah, then.

It was hard to praise, to thank God, to go to church, and to pray.

But there was something about being able to say "My Lord, My Lord" - there was so much revelation about feeling utterly abandoned and just groaning to the Lord, of digging deep down pass everything superficial and quite a few things that were real and finding a Thank You, Lord.

It was then that I found my shout - it was then that I found my tears. And I realized a simple truth to my childhood question - those who shout, cry, and carry on in church often don't do it for attention or because they feel like it is expected of them - they do it because they have something to shout about. They do it because they have had to dig down on dark and lonely nights and find a hallelujah.

But once you have praised him in the dark, it is so much easier to praise him in the light.

And just to remind the reader, I am talking about praise and not prayer (although in truth they are probably the same thing).

It is far easier to call out to God for help in a desperate situation (and by all means do!) then to praise him for being God when your relationships are falling apart, when you are on the brink of failure in school or at work, when you are depressed, when you are considering suicide, when you have halfway abandoned hope, when you are on the brink of unbelief - to then be able to say Thank You Jesus, I Love You, You Are Merciful, You Are Good, You Are Mighty, You Are Powerful, You are God, Hallelujah!

After still being able to find God in those contexts how can one not shout? How can one not cry? How can one not be thankful?

We are creatures who are built for praise - and there are many ways for praise to manifest itself in our lives - and ideally our entire life and being becomes one joyful praise song to the Lord.

However blessed is the praise that comes from dark corners, blessed is the praise that comes when life is dim, blessed are those who shout, blessed are those who cry, and blessed are those children who grow up wondering why.

To those with ears let them hear.


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