Updated: Jan 31
How did Paul praise You while enduring so much pain? I want to praise with abandonment and with all that is inside of me, but I can only praise You in part....
The apostle Paul is a hero in Scripture. How many people can worship God while being imprisoned, beaten, and left for dead? Not many. When I am in any kind of pain, my inclination is to complain, to get angry and to try and run from it because no one enjoys being hurt. Furthermore, it is definitely not our nature to be joyful while hurting. Tell me, when you're sitting with your Bible open in your lap trying to pray, trying to read, trying to feel and trying to praise to no avail, what do you do? What can you do? I'll tell you.
You praise anyway.
You push through, cry through, scream through and go through the pain and you praise Jesus the whole way. The Bible doesn't encourage us to worship, nor does it recommend that we praise God. It commands us. Approximately 250 times in His Word, we are told to praise the name of God. It gives no disclaimers, no exceptions, no leniency, just simply: Praise the Lord.
It isn't easy and if you're like me, you struggle with finding ways to praise Him when your mind is muddled or your heart is broken. So below are six practical ways we can praise the Lord through pain.
1. Intentionally Choose Gratitude Begin each morning by thanking God for something, even if it's the simple fact that you had a place to sleep. Whether or not you feel grateful, keep a thankfulness journal and write down everything you can think of to be thankful for - even if it's just one thing. I have been surprised at how quickly my bitterness turns to praise when I have chosen to set my mind on the good gifts God has given. Choose to be grateful and you will be less inclined to question His heart when you are hurting.
2. Surround Yourself With Healing People Pain festers in isolation. The most beneficial and healing thing for me was surrounding myself with people who tenderly ministered to me. Some friends have come to clean my home and pray, some often send Bible scriptures or books to cover my heart with heavenly balm. Some give me advice, others keep me in check, and some have simply stayed on the phone while I cried or voiced my frustration. When you're hurting, refusing to surround yourself with Godly members of the body is like amputating your own arm. But when you are surrounded by people who Biblically minister to you, you will find yourself praising God for His kindness by putting them in your life.
3. Step Away from Entertainment and Social Media
One of the best things I did for my own healing was take a break from TV. For almost an entire year, the TV was unplugged at my house. Occasionally when at someone else's home I would join them for a movie, but ultimately, there was no Netflix, cable, DVDs, etc. for a year. I also carefully monitored my social media time by adjusting my settings in order to guard my heart. A good way to praise through pain is by being mindful of the images you are taking in because His glory ought to always be at the forefront of our minds, not the highlight reel on social media or false realities in movies. So step back from those things and praise Him in the quiet.
4. Pick Wise Resources Choose your Church wisely. Listen to podcasts that give Biblical encouragement. Read books that will point your eyes to what you already have in Christ. Join Bible studies that actually study the Bible. Make a playlist of music that does not fuel the fire of heartache, but will stir your soul to worship. Be mindful of who you talk to on the phone. God is kind to give us ample resources to comfort us and mature us, but the devil has plenty of resources of his own with bait that looks pretty amazing. Pick wisely.
5. Get Outside
Learn to enjoy God's creation. When I began going outside and taking walks, I learned very quickly what a breath of fresh air (literally) it was! When we are deep in grief or pain, our perspective can shift when we leave the four walls of our home and go out into nature. If you step away from screens and even people and look for His love and His care in the bird's singing, the squirrels running and in His intricate design on flowers and leaves, you will find yourself in awe of Him over and over again.
6. Cultivate the Right Atmosphere
Scripture teaches us to prepare ourselves for worship. Just like our hearts need a place that is suitable for praise, so does the atmosphere in our room, home, car, office cubicle, etc. One of the best things for me is to have at least one spot in my home that is kept tidy and beautiful. There, I can sit and cry, I can lean back and listen to music or open my Bible. When we are in a calm, clean and beautiful environment, it sets the stage for healing and paves the way for praising. So play worship music, light a candle often and let the peaceful atmosphere compel you to praise.
God is in the business of making broken things whole. While we live here on earth, we will experience pain just as we see when we read about Paul's life. And we may have to endure pain quite often and for a long time. But there is no excuse not to praise because the Lord our God is worthy of our worship. So praise Him with your singing and praise Him with your praying, praise Him with your laughing and with your crying. Praise Him with your wounds and with your groans, and praise Him with your scars and with your weakness. Praise Him through all of your joys and, sister, keep praising Him through your pain.