I stared at the blank sheet of paper in my lap longer than I should have, unable to complete the exercise. All the women around me were writing furiously, completing the assignment with ease. The retreat leader had made a simple request, write down five blessings in our life. It seemed everyone else had quickly noted down five and now were on to many more. But I sat staring at my blank sheet of paper, unable to see past the trials in my life.
I was in a
When my pastor suggested I go to this women’s retreat, I’d politely declined. I was new at this church and didn’t know anyone. This introvert didn’t feel comfortable walking into a room of strangers for a one-hour Bible study, much less go out of town on a retreat.
But God knew I needed the conference speaker’s message about focusing on God’s blessings, even in the storms of our lives.
Each time the retreat was mentioned at church or in a newsletter, I felt a tug at my heart. I kept hearing the pastor’s voice encouraging me to attend. On a whim, I signed up.
Praising God in the Storm
Psalm 34 was written by David after a particularly stormy season in his life. He’d learned that Saul intended to kill him, so he fled from the king. He faced dangers on his way, even pretending to be crazy so another king would let him go.
This Psalm is David’s reminder to focus our hearts to praise God in the storm, even when we’re in the midst of battle and running for our lives. Praise God first and trust that God will protect those who worship and obey him.
“I will extol the Lord at all times;Psalm 34:1 (NIV)
His praise will always be on my lips.”
Psalm 34 opens with a reminder of how God wants us to live, with praise always on our lips.
“I will glory in the Lord;Psalm 34:2-3 (NIV)
Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
Let us exalt his name together.”
It’s hard to praise God when life is hard, but God wants us to rejoice in him even when we’re afflicted. Stay in the presence of others who are also full of praise, so you can hear their praise and join in.
If you surround yourself with those who complain and speak words of despair and blame, you’ll fill your heart with those feelings. But, if you surround yourself with people who speak words of life, praising God and believing in God’s power, then you’ll fill your heart with God and keep your eyes fixed on him.
God will Protect Those Who Praise Him
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me;Psalm 34:4-7 (NIV)
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
Their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
And he delivers them.”
Even when times are bad, we are surrounded by God’s angel when we choose to praise and worship God with reverence and obedience.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears themPsalm 34:17-20 (NIV)
He delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
But the Lord delivers him from them all;
He protects all his bones,
Not one of them will be broken.”
Life is hard. Even the righteous – the ones who worship God and are obedient to God – will have many troubles. But, God is by our side through them all. He will deliver us from them all – in this world or the next.
Why Praise God in the Storm
You have to CHOOSE to PRAISE God.
Praise is hard when we’re in those difficult seasons. Our focus is on our problems and we can’t see all the blessings in our lives. We’re worried and fearful, our hearts are not full of joy and praise. Yet, this is exactly when we need to focus our hearts and minds and souls on praising God.
When you DO PRAISE God, it changes your perception of your problems.
The problems don’t immediately go away, but our gaze shifts from our problems to God. When we fix our eyes on God, the problems of this world begin to fade away. When praise pours out of our mouths, joy begins to fill our hearts.
When it’s hard to praise, you simply have to BEGIN TO PRAISE.
Take one step, sing one song, say one prayer, find one good thing to praise about God.
“If we hope to spend our eternity in praising God, it is fit that we should spend as much as may be of our time in this work.”Matthew Henry
Fix Your Eyes Upon Jesus and the Things of this World Will Grow Strangely Dim
By the end of the night, my page was full. I couldn’t stop writing down all the blessings in my life. I had made the decision to shift my focus away from my problems and instead fix my eyes on Jesus.
As I began to refocus my eyes and my heart, the words began pouring out onto my paper. So many blessings I’d been missing. So many wonderful gifts God had bestowed upon me. So many wonderful things about this life that I’d been overlooking.
I was so filled with praise and thanksgiving I couldn’t stop. In fact, my prayers for the next year were filled only with praise and thanksgiving. I stopped praying about my problems and instead decided to praise God in the storm I was facing.
The problems in my life didn’t instantly resolve, but I stopped focusing on the storms. I set my heart on believing in God’s promises and goodness, knowing he would lead me through this season, no matter the resolution of the issues I was facing, and that made all the difference.
How Are You Praising God in the Storm?
Where is your focus? On the storms in your life? Or, do you have your eyes fixed on Jesus?
How are you praising God today, in this season?
Will you take a step and offer God your praise? Today, focus your thoughts and prayers on praising God. Praise him for who he is and thank him for all the blessings in your life.
Prayer of Praise in the Storm (Psalm 34)
O Lord, God of glory, Father Almighty, I will ever praise you. For you are good and faithful and true. I cry out and you hear me. You surround me and protect me, delivering me from my trials. May I ever sing your praises to all who will hear. Even through the storms and trials of this life, may I keep my eyes fixed on you and rejoice in your glory and majesty. You are bigger than this world, more mighty than any foe I may face, and I worship you with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength. Amen.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Surrounded – a 14-Day Devotional to Fight Your Battles with Praise
Are you in a stormy season? Want to learn how to put your praise into action, even when life is hard?
Go deeper in the Surrounded Devotional – a 14-day study on how to fight your battles with praise. Click here for details.