Have you ever had to make a volcano for school? It’s a pretty simple project to do. I like to use a small jar and then build the volcano around it. Once you’re done with that, it’s time to create the lava. The simplest thing to do is put baking soda in the jar, add a few drops of red food coloring and then pour in some vinegar. It’s not a crazy explosion, but what’s in the jar will come out. The same is true when we go through a difficult time. What on the inside of you will come out. How do you react to difficult situations? What do you say when you’re hurting mentally, physically or emotionally?
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a girl who had taunted them for days. When the demon came out, so did her ability to tell fortunes and her ability to make money for her owners. They became angry, got some soldiers and a crowd and made accusations against Paul and Silas. Without a court hearing their case, the guards stripped them, beat them and put them in a dungeon. Their shackles were placed around their arms and legs, holding them in a painful position that prevented them from sleeping. Instead of cursing or demanding that they were innocent, they began to pray and sing praises to God. Verse 25 says the prisoners were listening intently to them when God sent an earthquake that unlocked every prisoner’s shackles.
Psalm 34:1 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (AMP). Like Paul and Silas, we have a choice to seek sympathy, to demand we were wronged, or we can bless God knowing He’s in control. Other people around us are intently listening to us and our reaction when bad things happen. How you react could set them free or keep them bound up. It’s not easy to bless and praise God in the midnight hour when you’re bound up and in pain, but it is the appropriate response as a believer. He has the power to heal you, to restore you and to vindicate you. It may not happen immediately like it did for Paul and Silas, but it will happen.
One of the toughest things we need to have with our faith is a “What if He doesn’t” attitude. What if He doesn’t heal your family member? Will you still trust Him? What if He doesn’t save your marriage? Will you still love Him? What if He doesn’t help me get this job? Will you still follow Him? What if He doesn’t answer your prayer? Will you still serve Him? These are tough questions, but necessary to ask yourself. God doesn’t always do the things we believe He should. Even when we believe with everything in us that He can and will answer our prayer, sometimes He doesn’t. Trusting Him after that is something we all must learn to do. We have to remember that He sees the bigger picture and that His ways are higher than ours.
In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego wouldn’t bow to their captor’s god. The king brought them in and commanded them to do it or die. He asked them if they thought there was any god who could save them from burning in a fiery furnace. They told him that God was able to do it. Then, in verse 18, they added, “But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up” (GNT). They were willing to sacrifice their lives trusting God, even if He didn’t answer their prayer and save their lives. It’s the type of faith that we all need to have. It’s the type of faith we must determine to have before we get into a situation that will challenge us at our core.
Psalm 34:1 says, “I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises” (NLT). We can’t just praise God when things are going great and when our prayers are being answered. We must learn to praise Him at ALL times. When He doesn’t answer our most desperate prayer, praise Him. When everything in life is going wrong, praise Him. Our praise, trust and love for God cannot be based on our feelings or circumstances. It must run deep within us to the point that it is who we are. Determine today that even if He doesn’t respond the way you deeply believe He should, you will bless and praise Him anyway.
I remember being in children’s church as a kid. The boys sat on one side and the girls on the other. One of my favorite songs to sing was “Praise Ye The Lord”. We sang it in the rounds, and they made it a competition which made me sing my heart out. The girls would sing, “Hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah,” then the boy side would belt out, “Praise ye the Lord!” The girls would sing out, “Hallelujah,” only louder this time. We would respond with, “Praise ye the Lord,” trying to be louder than them. They responded, we responded and then we all were yelling at this point together, “Praise ye the Lord!” Each time the children’s church pastors would pick a winner who sang the loudest, but looking back I can see we both won as we learned to praise the Lord.
Praising the Lord is one of the recurring themes throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, I think of when Israel would go to battle they would have a group of people who would sing praises go out in front of the army knowing their praise would honor God and bring victory. I also think of King Saul who was tormented by evil spirits. He would bring young David in to play praise songs, and he would get relief. In the New Testament, Paul and Silas had been thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel. In the darkest part of that prison in the darkest time of the night, they began to sing praises to God. In a moment, the ground shook and their chains fell off. Their praise brought freedom to them and salvation to another.
Genesis 2:7 tells us that in the Garden of Eden, God breathed the breathe of life into man and he came alive. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)” (AMP) As people, we’ve been given the breath by God in order to praise Him. We aren’t just supposed to praise Him on Sunday mornings though. When we’re in the thick of a difficult time where we can’t see the way out, it’s time to praise. When we’re on the edge of a breakthrough, it’s time to praise. When we need healing, it’s time to praise. When life is going great, it’s time to praise. Psalm 34:1 tells us to bless the Lord at all times and to let His praise be continually in our mouths. So right now is a great time for you to praise the Lord. No matter what you’re facing, it’s time to praise the Lord.