“…Abounding therein with thanksgiving.” These words at the end of Col. 2:7, read as “overflowing with thankfulness” in the NIV show us that praise is not only giving God the honor and glory He rightly deserves, but doing it with an exuberance that lifts His name up in us to heights that can never truly be expressed. Abounding, overflowing, spilling out of our hearts, our minds, our very souls, and not only because of the blessings of food, clothes, family and friends, but just because He is.
I would like you to take a moment and read a short passage from Francis De Sales book “Introduction to the Devout Life”; in it he states, “Surely we have not by any means a sufficient store of love to offer God, and yet in our madness and folly we lavish and waste it on vain frivolous objects, as though we had enough and to spare. Our dear Lord, who demands nothing else but our love in return for our creation, preservation and redemption, will require a strict account of the senseless way in which we have fritted and wasted it.” Unending gratitude to God for the incredible gift of His Son for us can never be re-payed, nor should we ever try to, for this depth of love can not be matched, yet we seem to have plenty of love, using the word loosely, for superficial and shallow things in this world, things that will not be in eternity.
There are four types of Christian love in the Bible; Eros, Storge, Philia and Agape. I would highly recommend that all of those who read this take the time to do a study on the Biblical meanings of these words, for they are the foundation of knowledge of what love really means. Love is one of the main tests of genuine faith, for “if I have not charity (love), I am nothing.” (1st Cor. 13:2)
My lovely wife and I, when the Good Lord provide’s financially for us, love, again to use the word in broad terms, to go on a vacation occasionally. Some of the places we have visited I have suggested we move to, actually selling all, packing up what is left and go, never to return. This is not something we have done, yet, and for a variety of reasons, but one of the things that keeps coming up in the conversations, that perhaps I bring up a little to often, is the subject of contentment, for my wife is comfortable where we now reside. To me, comfortable here on this planet earth can lead to complacency, and those who become at home here, those who think only temporal and rarely of the eternal, lose over time not the ability to praise, but the fervent desire to express unending gratitude for even the smallest of blessings from our Lord.
To quote from the book “The Cloud of Unknowing”; “For I tell thee truly, for ofttimes patience in sickness and in other diverse tribulations pleases God much more than any liking devotion thou mayest have in thy health.” There are places in our lives that we have become comfortable, places that do not allow us to experience all that our Dear Lord would have us to know, we tend to shun trials and tribulations, some even calling them punishment from God Almighty, when they are precious paths to a growth that will draw us so much closer to Him. “We must through many tribulations enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22) To put into words from one much wiser than myself, ‘those who have been forgiven much, love much’, and those who love much, praise often and repeatedly, no matter the circumstances.
Our praise and adoration is not only due Him, but should be a natural outpouring of our spirit and very soul to our Lord and Savior, for He alone is worthy. Personally, I did not praise His Name when the doctor first told me that I had cancer, to tell you the truth, the very first thought in my head was “finally, I get to go home”, but, praise God in His wisdom and a future I could not see, He healed me from it and has blessed me with a mind and body that can still be a service to Him, if even in the most minute ways. Honestly, it took me a couple of days in the hospital before I began to praise Him, to give Him the glory and worship for guiding my life, for allowing me to be in the situation I was in, and if any of you have ever spent any length of time in a hospital you know that this is one of the places you are taught what it means to lean on Him, to rely on Him, to allow our faith to grow. Then, for those of us who continue to heed the call, to seek His face in every aspect of our lives, the blessings of a fairly healthy existence take a back seat to one of further growth in a life of praise, for it is not the deed that God honors, but the love with which the deed is done.
Our praise of God should not be hindered by what many would consider inconveniences, much less what we would call trials, whether of body, mind or spirit. How many individuals have you met in your life who have lost the ability to praise God because of an unexpected death in their family, those who will not subject themselves to His will, no matter what He has decided to do. How many have lost the ability to lift up the glorious Name of Jesus because of a lack of trust when tribulations came, when the suffering and hardships He has allowed to come their way were looked upon as sent by an unloving God who for some reason has decided to punish them, not seeing or living by faith that His desire is always to draw us closer to Himself, so that we can ever with more fervency glorify His wonderful works in our lives.
‘There but for the grace of God go I’ used to be something we heard long ago on a regular basis, but not much anymore, for too many expect the grace of God, believing, as it were, that He is required to give of His glorious unmerited favor to all, no matter the lifestyle they have chosen. Turn the table on yourself, can you pray that you might be the recipient of the saying, would you be able to be the one, who when others meet you, would say ‘there but for the grace of God go I’, would you still be able to give daily praise to Our Lord, the one who loves you beyond all measure, if in His infinite wisdom, if He chooses you to suffer in a way that He knows you could withstand and still exalt His name, “for His name alone is exalted” (Psalm 148:13)
I, like you and probably every Christian brother and sister, dread these times, these times of trials and tribulations when they come, yet when He has placed me in them, I find a peace that I cannot understand, and my mouth and heart begin again to praise His wonderful name, for He has chosen me to be drawn closer to Him, and in His precious Son only am I found worthy.
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever!” (Psalm 136:1)