I adore Psalm 42:11
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
I love that each psalm is such a beautiful and vulnerable articulation of authentic prayer and praise before the Lord. I find myself, much like the psalmists, commanding my soul to praise the Lord when I am walking through the valleys in my life. If I’m being honest, I find myself doing this on a daily basis. We were created to worship, but for our human nature – our flesh –this is not the natural response. Making praise our response in any situation is something that we work at every day.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Daily we need to die to self. He must increase, I must decrease. It will not be a natural progression, but something we will continually command our soul to do with each new circumstance. Praising the Lord even when it hurts does not show indifference to our struggles like our flesh would lead us to believe, but it does show our hearts to the Lord and invites Him into every part of our lives, especially the ones in which our flesh would try to be angry with Him and ask Him why.
1. It shows Him that even in a place of lack, He is all we need (CS Lewis said, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only”).
2. It shows Him that He is still more valuable to us than whatever is causing us pain.
3. It shows the enemy that God is the authority over this situation and we cannot be defeated by it.
4. It denies our problems a place of influence over our lives and our souls and gives God that place of influence instead. He is still on the throne.
5. Most importantly, it glorifies the Lord and He is worthy of our praise all the time. The Lord does not change based on our feelings. He is steadfast. He is holy. He is good all the time.
Praising in the storm will not feel comfortable. It won’t feel comfortable the first time or the one hundred and first time you do it. It is so much more comfortable for your flesh to remain in a place alone with your despair. Dear friends, you do not have to be alone in your despair. God will not call you prematurely out of your despair. In fact, He is the very type of Friend who will sit in the depth of the despair with you. He is the Great Comforter. He will continue to shape you and mold you in these valleys. A great triumph of our Lord is that He takes this sin and darkness and brokenness in our world and in our lives and works it together for our good every time much to the enemy’s dismay.
When we think of the psalms, we think of the beautiful and poetic language that describes our Lord in all of his splendor. But many of them were written in the valley seasons. They aren’t beautiful or poetic. They are a broken and contrite heart before the Lord. They are a soul recognizing their daily and desperate need for Him. They are inviting the Lord into a very intimate and vulnerable place in their lives. In order to praise the Lord in spirit and in truth as Jesus commanded, we need to worship in every season. We need to worship from an authentic place in our hearts. Our response in the valleys is just as important as our thanksgiving on the hilltop.
Father, I ask You to help me daily to make my response prayer and praise first and foremost in all circumstances. I want to invite Your presence into every part of my life. I want to have a heart open and humbled before You at all times. Thank You for your steadfast love in all seasons. I am so grateful and in awe of Your triumph in all of the valley seasons of my life. Amen.