Give praise to God through good and bad times

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2017

“Hallelujah! How good it is to sing praises to our God! How pleasant it is to honor God with praises.” (Psalm 147:1)

The opening verse of Psalm 147 gives voice with acclamation to the reality that giving praise to God is not just something we should do out of obligation; rather, giving praise to God actually makes us feel good. It is pleasant.

There are many things in this life that make me upset and that make me wonder where God is. Shouldn’t God just do what I want? Shouldn’t things go the way I want them to go? It is easy for me to get in a funk where I demand that my way of seeing the world should be God’s way of making the world both globally and personally come to be.

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I want God to act as I would act on my imaginary best day; however, I am not in control of God, creation, or, quite frankly, much of anything. Psalm 147 calls me back to the reality that it is good to give praise to God for our own well-being, for our sanity.

Too much of my outlook on life is determined by what is happening right now. Are good things happening? If so, I’ll praise God. Are bad things happening? If so, I’ll take my toys home and pout about bad outcomes. The psalmist wants us to give praise to God whether good or bad things are happening. The psalmist is prescribing praise to God, because praising God helps us get out of our own way.

This past Sunday it was pouring rain almost all day. I wanted a nice sunny day for our youth Sunday, because I knew more people would attend on a sunny day than a rainy day. I ruefully asked God why we couldn’t have rain on Monday instead of Sunday.

Later that day, I was feeling sorry for myself, because the weather still wasn’t the weather that I wanted for that day. Finally, my wife told me to go to the store. I asked her why I should go to the store. She told me that a drive would probably do me some good.

I was driving on Route 108 from Tryon to Columbus when I looked up at the mountains to my left. They were shrouded in clouds. The rain was coming down. The sun was blocked, but the clouds covered the mountains in the most beautiful way. The mountains just disappeared into the clouds, and it was if the mountains were gently letting the clouds perch on their shoulders.

Beauty was all around me, but I had spent most of the day wanting the beauty to be on my terms. I let the dissonance between my desires and reality determine my capacity to see what God was giving me that Sunday until the beauty of the clouds and the mountains shook me out of my spiritual and emotional malaise.

That is when the words of Psalm 147 welled up in my heart, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God upon the harp. God covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth. (Psalm 147:7-8)”

It is easy for me to get lost in the petty desires of my heart and mind. It is easy for me to forget that it is pleasant to praise God. Hallelujah!

written by Father Robert Ard, Holy Cross Episcopal Church