Friday, November 19, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Praise God

A Habit of Praise
A devotional by Karen Marstaller

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

In this season of turkey and dressing feasts, pumpkin spice everything, and gloriously cooler weather, it’s easy to find reasons to be thankful.

Riding horseback under a cathedral of autumn leaves in the crisp mountain air, experiencing the first snowfall of winter as it dresses the landscape in a garment of purity, or enjoying a wonderful rain shower that causes one of our national treasures to surge again in thunderous falls after a long season of drought—all these things cause us to feel gratitude welling up in our hearts.

We are grateful for our families and our friends. Looking into their beloved faces causes us to smile as we cherish the times we’ve spent together. Then we look forward with anticipation to the future, maybe even to Thanksgiving, when we will see our loved ones again and make more beautiful memories.

Pausing in our busy lives, we thank God for the places we live, the food on our tables, and the jobs that give us a sense of worth and fulfillment. We slide into our favorite boots, or our coziest coats, or even into our cars with the blissfully warm heated seats. For all of these, we are grateful.

Then there are the times when we don’t feel that same rush of gratitude. Houses burn, jobs are downsized, economies shrink, a tiny baby dies, or a dear old friend breathes his last, and we are faced with a dilemma. Will we stop in the middle of the great heartaches of life to bow in humble thankfulness to the Lord?

God tells us to use every circumstance as a reason for praising Him. The events when joy is plentiful—like a wedding or a graduation—exist side-by-side with the other events. These are the ones where joy is not as apparent—like a gravesite, or a packed box representing years of faithful service with a pink slip resting on top. Thanking God is sometimes easy, and sometimes it isn’t.

God’s Word encourages us to thank Him regardless of our circumstances. To some people, His instructions sound like we’re to put on a fake smile and pretend to be “holy” in front of others.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our thankful hearts are the bond that keep us in tune with our Heavenly Father. We gain peace in His presence as we pray because He is our peace. He is strength when we have none because He inhabits our praise (Psalm 22:3). We can’t see the path before us, but God does. A thankful, praying heart helps us to keep following Him, even in the darkest night.

And as we follow the Lord with our sometimes faltering steps, we rely on His vision, His path, and His plan for our lives. Moving along a trail in the dark teaches us one of the fundamental truths of living for Jesus Christ. Our steps are uncertain, but His are sure. Our sight is blurred, but His is crystal clear. Our thoughts are fearful, but His are higher than we can even imagine (Isaiah 55:8-9). We can trust Him with every moment on this beautiful journey we call Life.

We can choose to rejoice in our life. We can rejoice in the things that hurt and in the things that make us want to jump for joy. When our eyes are filled with tears, we may feel as though we are blinded. But God collects all our tears (Psalm 56:8) and He shines that much brighter to others through our tentative smiles in the sorrows, and through our hearts that humbly bow to His will. He is with us always—in our joys as well as in our sorrows.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, we thank You for everything. We ask for the courage to choose to praise You for all the days of our lives—not just for the ones that fly by, but also for the ones that seem to take forever. We thank You for Your Life in us, and as we take a deep breath for courage, we thank You for death, as well. Because You are the Giver of Life, we understand that You are also the Giver of eternal life after death in Heaven for all whom are in the family of God. You are all we need, and we worship You in every circumstance. Help us to trust You and help us to lift our prayers of heartfelt thanksgiving to You, for everything is from You. Thank You, Lord. 

We love You. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

During this time of quarantine, Karen enjoys reading, writing, and connecting with friends and family via phone calls, texts, emails, blogs, live-streams, and video conferencing. 

She is grateful that the Lord has provided so many ways for humankind to stay in community, even when we are all hunkering down in our homes.

Karen says, “In this unprecedented time, we know that He has prepared us for such a time as this! To God be all the glory!”

You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address:

1 comment:

  1. Karen, thank you for this. It comes on the heals of crying out to the Lord for some friends who have received sad news. We give thanks even when we don't understand...Many blessings!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.