By Alicia Purdy, Crosswalk.com
Everyone’s life goes through seasons in much the same way as the seasons of nature change over the course of time. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have already seen that the life of faith is a contrast to the life of the flesh. This is an important distinction because the lines between faith and flesh should never be blurred, especially when life gets hard.
Hard times come to everyone, but for believers, the journey through life’s dark valleys looks very different. Your ability to triumph amid adversity is going to start with your determination to “walk by faith and not by sight.” (Hebrews 11:13) When life is hard, you’ll struggle with the temptation to walk in the flesh—by what your eyes see—instead of by faith—what you can’t see but know to be true because of Jesus Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 4:18, the Apostle Paul wrote:
“We have the same spirit of faith. As it is written, “I believed, and therefore I have spoken.” So we also believe and therefore speak…” (MEV)
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (MEV) How you see your situation—with the sight of your flesh or the sight of your faith—will be affected by how you speak of it. And in the hard times of your life, what’s really controlling you on the inside will reveal itself through the things you say about your situation.
That revelation can be a good thing if you are willing to acknowledge your weak areas and submit them to the Lord!
There Is a Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven
You’ll have warm sunny seasons in your life, seasons of high winds, seasons of choppy waters, seasons of icy breezes or seasons of harvest, seasons of intense heat, seasons where it seems everything is blooming, and seasons where it seems everything has died.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (MEV) says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…”
It is true that there are seasons in your life that shift, change, begin, and end, but what doesn’t ever change is the Lord Your God. (Hebrews 13:8) That is why your survival in the storms depends on the strength of your connection to the Rock.
When Life Is Bad, Praise a God Good
Jesus said, “…in this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33, NKJV) But hard times in life aren’t God’s fault. In reality, the hard times that come in life are the result of:
- The fallen, sinful condition of the world
- Your own choices
- The choices and actions of another person
- An attack of your Adversary
In hard times, you may feel as though there is nothing to praise God for, but the truth is, there is always a reason to praise the Lord even in the darkest and worst times of your life—because God is always good.
- “There is no evil in Him.” (Psalm 92:15, NLT)
- “You are good and only good.” (Psalm 119:68, NLT)
- “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5, ESV)
- “Good and upright is the Lord.” (Psalm 25:8, MEV)
What so many believers don’t understand is that praise and worship are about God alone and His worthiness is not connected to the difficult experiences of living life in a fallen world.
Your enemy, the devil, understands the power of praise and worship better than anyone because He once existed in the manifest presence of the Lord. That is why, when hard times come (and they will!), he seeks to disconnect you from God’s presence.
David wrote, “But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3, MEV)
Your enemy knows that God’s Holy Spirit dwells uniquely and in a different dynamic when you minister your gratitude to the Lord in praise. If there’s anything your enemy does not want you to do when life gets hard, it’s to draw closer to God in praise and worship—and that is why you must do it.
No, you don’t have to be thankful to the Lord “for” the hard things. Your gratitude to Him in praise is given “in spite of” the hard things—because He’s as worthy and good in hard times as He is in your best days. And, if you draw near to Him, He will be faithful to draw near to you (James 4:8) and you will find a deeper revelation of His goodness in your hard times.
In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MEV) Paul wrote:
“For this reason, we do not lose heart…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Praise and worship invite the presence of God closer, and His Holy Spirit will help adjust your sight to see your situation through the eyes of faith and help you keep your spirit strong in the storms.
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Your Sacrifice of Praise Turns Darkness to Light
In Psalm 50:23, the Lord said, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me. If you keep to My path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” (NLT)
- You worship a God who is always with you. (Matthew 28:20)
- You worship a God who is with you in the fire and the flood. (Isaiah 43:2)
- You worship a God who walks with you through the valley of the shadow of death. (Psalm 23:4)
- You worship a God who sees all your tears and keeps record of them. (Psalm 52:8)
- You worship a God who answers your cries for help. (Psalm 18)
- You worship a God who puts a new song in your mouth. (Psalm 40:1-3)
- You worship a God who will never forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
- You worship a God who upholds you with His righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
It is hard to praise the Lord when life is hard, but praise and worship are strategies for victory! Isaiah 61:3 says that the Lord gave you “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (NKJV), but you must put that “garment” on yourself.
You can’t help that hard times will come, but you don’t have to live in endless darkness when you praise and worship the God who is LIGHT that darkness cannot overcome. (John 1:5)
Your Sacrifice of Praise Turns Death into Life
The sacrifice of praise is exactly that—a sacrifice—and no sacrifice wants to die! Even Jesus, who willingly took the cross, first asked for the Lord to remove it from Him. However, because He willingly chose to die, He was then raised to life.
The same power is given to you. Because you worship a living God, you have a living hope. As you praise Jesus Christ, who defeated death, you will find that what you thought was dead in you is becoming alive once again.
When you offer yourself as a willing sacrifice to the Lord in praise and worship, through gratitude and ministry to Him alone, you are sacrificing yourself to Him. To lift the Lord high, you are sacrificing:
- How you feel
- What you see
- How you think
- Your fears and your worries
- Your emotions
- Your desires
Sacrifice is what God desires and honors (Psalm 50:3) and because He sacrificed everything for you, He understands how difficult it will feel to praise Him in hard times. Remember, there isn’t anything you can give to God that He hasn’t given to you first.
In Genesis 22:17, the Lord said, “…in blessing, I will bless you…” That means as you bless the Lord, you are stepping under His protective cover of blessing. That won’t magically make hard things disappear, but you will find the strength you need to stand in faith for your situation.
The transformation that praise and worship bring in hard times will be within you, first, before you see it outside of you and it is within you that all great victories of God begin.
True praise and worship are God-centered and will keep your spirit vital, your soul revived, your mind focused, and your hope alive. Life can get very bad, so that is why you must praise and worship the God who is good.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/doidam10
Alicia Purdy holds an M.A. in Journalism from Regent University. She is a worship leader at her local church and the author of “The Way of the Worshipper: Connecting with Spirit of God Through Restoring Intimacy, Purpose, and Understanding in Worship”. Alicia publishes www.TheWayoftheWorshipper.com, a devotional Bible study blog focused on the power of praise and worship that offers free printables, study materials, teachings, books, and other resources for individuals, groups, and churches to gain revelation, insight, and understanding from God’s Word about praise and worship.