The leper in who approached Jesus in Matt 8, fell on his knees and chose to worship Jesus. Praising God in the storm preceded his victory.
When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. Matt 8:1-2
Despite the extremeness of his suffering, he still humbled himself and praised God. Wow! That’s powerful!
In today’s blog post, I will share the benefits of praising God in the midst of the storm. I understand it can be the last thing you feel like doing. So I will also address the reasons for this and offer some suggestions which will hopefully help you.
If you’re unwell right now, understanding the benefits of praising will encourage you to worship God in the storm of sickness.
By the end of this article, you will hopefully be motivated to incorporate more praise into your life, despite feelings and your situation.
If you’re going through the fiery furnace the best thing you can do is praise God.
PRAISING GOD IN THE STORM
When we suffer, it’s all too tempting to stay in that sense realm where we allow our feelings to dominate our thoughts and words, making praising much harder.
It’s against our human nature, hence the term ‘sacrifice of praise’.
You see the enemy wants to keep you in the natural where there is no hope. He will try and convince you that God has forgotten you or that you’ll stay limited forever.
When you offer a sacrifice of praise, even for just a short while, you’re counteracting the enemy and choosing to side with God.
Even if you know that God is not resposible for your suffering, there can still be a massive resistance to praising Him. I believe that this is because of the state our nervous system can be in.
When we’re in one of the survival states (See WHAT IS THE AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM?), then we’re not experiencing joy, peace or contentment.
If this is you, know that it is not your fault. Your nervous system could be very dysregulated because of past unhealed traumas or even an accumulation of stress. In my experience, no amount of positive thinking heals this.
Of course, the Holy Spirit does heal, but it often takes time.
In the meantime, it’s easy to feel as though, whenever we’re praising, that we’re ‘putting ice cream on top of poop’. (I heard this phrase recently from a couple of the mind-body experts out there and it resonated with me).
So what’s the answer?
For me, it’s understanding that praise has nothing to do with feelings and everything to do with faith. When I praise God, I ask myself ‘do I really mean what I am saying?’
If I’m speaking what is in my heart, even though I may not be experiencing the joy or peace that I would like, then I am on the right path.
No matter how great the suffering, God’s goodness is always greater! When we make God our focus and choose to practise the sacrifice of praise, God will cause supernatural doors to be opened!
This is what happened when Jonah was in the whale. At first the last thing he felt like doing was praising God; he was in the depths of despair.
This was an impossible situation, but the moment he worshipped God for his goodness, his situation turned around!
I don’t think praising is something that needs to be hours and hours. Start with what you can manage.
EXAMPLE OF JONAH AND THE WHALE
But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you…..And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. Jonah 2: 9-10
I wonder what would have happened if Jonah had failed to praise God?
Worshipping in the valley also reminds us God is with us in our suffering. There’s no power in focusing on our problems.
With Jonah however, there was a significant process at work. He had to go through the complaining stage first whilst he acclimatised to being in the whale, otherwise I believe the praise would have been quite false.
In all honesty though, I don’t believe this means pretending we don’t feel what we feel. God wants us to be authentic. It’s ok to tell God what you’re really thinking and feeling, you’re his child, he wants you to come to him with your heart.
To me, the sacrifice of praise means acknowledging your pain and heartache and choosing to praise God in the midst of the suffering.
I can’t imagine Jonah was full of joy when he was praising God. Nor do I believe the leper in Matthew 5 was ecstatically happy when he bowed down to worship Jesus.
If may just be for a few moments but as you go on your journey you’ll build up the amount of time you praise.
Here are some benefits of the sacrifice of praise:
1. WE PRACTISE HIS PRESENCE
When we choose to praise, we’re practising the presence of God.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8
Praise and worship to God is a vital part of the culture in any church I’ve ever been in; we’re not just killing time before the preaching begins. We’re drawing close to Him, preparing our hearts for the message that is to follow.
Pracitising his presence is the best way to start each day. We’re acknowledging His Lordship in our lives and putting Him first. We’re telling God that He is sovereign, that He is worthy and in and of ourselves we have no entitlements.
We are not praising for what God is doing or even for what He is about to do. We are praising purely for who He is; for His character and nature.
When we practise His presence, we are more likely for that presence to increase in our lives. Not that God could get any bigger, but that He would appear bigger in our eyes. (What we focus on grows).
This in time gives a sense of peace, comfort and security. We cannot go on a healing journey without awareness of His presence.
I guess you could say the good thing about suffering is that really is an invitation for us to draw near to Him.
God has commanded you and I to worship Him. Carving out time each day to spend focusing on Him in praise in worship is just one way in which we can honour Him.
“You shall have no other gods before Me” Ex 20:3
If you think about it, if we don’t worship Him because ‘we don’t feel like it’ we are elevating our feelings, thoughts, sufferings etc etc above God.
I love the humility of the leper. Despite the extent of his suffering, he bowed down and worshipped Jesus. He put God above his circumstances.
He knew that God was worthy. No matter how desperate his situation, he still humbled himself. Did he ‘feel’ like it? Probably not. Was he ‘full of joy?’ probably not.
2. WE BECOME MORE REGULATED
In my article about the nervous system, I explained how we can be dysregulated and how this contributes to both mental and physical illness.
“When we thank, praise & worship God, we prime our circuits for high intellectual function, & every cell in our body is positively affected.” Caroline Leaf (neuroscientist)
Wow, ‘every cell in our bodies is positively affected’.
This is what someone like Peter Levine, trauma expert, would cause a regulating resource. It is something that supports our physiological system in a healthy way.
How many times have you come home from church and you feel edified and uplifted, even though your circumstances haven’t changed?
If you’re on a healing journey, then we want to apply as many regulating resources into our lives as possible.
3. OUR PERSPECTIVE CHANGES
The moment we become more regulated, our perspective changes. All of a sudden, we sense more of a peace and a vision of the bigger picture.
We zoom out from where we were, to a place where we see what God is doing.
Put yourself in the shoes of those who suffered greatly in Scripture:
- Joseph in the dungeon for many years.
- Ruth who faced life all alone in a foreign land.
- Blind Samson in the prison.
We don’t explicitly read of these guys praising God in their situation but the results prove otherwise. I imagine that every day these guys spent time in the quietness of their own hearts, worshiping the King of Kings.
Joseph knew that God would bring to pass, the original vision that He would be a wonderful leader. This caused him to keep on going.
Ruth’s praise empowered her to keep on doing the right thing, despite all natural hope being against her. Samson knew that He would come to a victorious finish despite being a prisoner with his eyes plucked out.
Praise gives us eyes to see what God is doing through our situations.
I wonder whether this leper had been secretly worshiping God privately before this encounter. He could see the bigger picture which contributed towards him confidently approaching Jesus.
4. WE ARE TRANSFORMED
If we become more regulated through praise then we will naturally be more hopeful and expectant. Bill Johnson says that ‘hope is the soil in which faith grows’
I think that something supernatural must happen when we praise. We can’t help but be in a ‘better head and heart space’ One reason is because praise and worship songs often are filled with Scriptures.
We are literally singing the Word over ourselves.
Heb 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is ‘living and active’. It has power to transform hearts, mindsets and even our physical bodies.
Ps 107:20 states that “He (God) sent His word and healed them…”
So singing over our bodies, our lives and our situations has healing power according to Scripture. How many times have you left Church, only to find yourself more uplifted and edified?
This is the transformative power of praising God in the storm.
5. SUPERNATURAL DOORS OPEN
- After the leper worshipped Jesus, He received His healing. When Jonah switched to praise, the whale spat Him out on the shore. (Jonah 2)
- When Paul and Silas worshipped in the prison cell, the doors flung open (Acts 16)
- When Joshua and the Israelites gave a shout of praise, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down.
- What would happen in these instances without praising God?
God wants nothing but the best for us. When we worship, it’s for our own benefit!
By praising God in the storm, we’re showing God we trust Him; we’re expecting His supernatural power. We know He’s fighting our battles for us.
We know our praise causes supernatural walls to come tumbling down. The next time you’re faced with a crisis, put on a worship CD and sing your way to victory.
Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband. Is 54:1
You and I can be expectant because of what Jesus has accomplished for us. We can believe him for victory and for breakthrough because it has already been done.
When was the last time you praised God in the midst of the valley? What was the result?
I wonder if you could spend some time putting yourself in the shoes of those I mention above. We know the end of the story but at the time, these guys were operating on the basis of trust.
They were praising in advance of the victory. This is faith.
Imagine your world and your circumstances on the other side of suffering. How active are you in praising the only one who can break through for you?
Which of these benefits encourage you to praise the most; perhaps you have experienced other benefits of praising God in the storm?
I hope this encourages you a little on your journey.
Also in this series: