Resolved to Praise God on Good Days and Bad

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If you know Jesus, you can rejoice on good days and bad days. Your greatest need has already been met.

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "praise the Lord"? Crest-commercial-sized smiles and raised hands come to my mind, along with sentences like these: "Praise the Lord, my dad has a job again." "Praise the Lord, my best friend is recovering from surgery." "Praise the Lord, my sister has accepted Jesus!"

There's nothing wrong—and, in fact, everything right—with crediting God for all the above types of blessings. I'm a fan of toothy grins, and I love raising my own hands at certain times in worship. I don't personally find myself often using the words "praise the Lord," but I'm sure that 2012 will bring me new opportunities to continue to thank Him excitedly—remembering that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17).

I'm also sure that this year will be strewn with heavy, hard days. I will cry—and I will probably cry hard. But I'm commanded to rejoice continually and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:16)—so I've made a resolution.

Resolution: I will praise God on good days and bad days this year.

What will that look like, practically? How do we praise God on days when our emotions are ranging anywhere on the spectrum from "mediocre" to "miserable"?

I find Job's story both striking and instructive. I'm compelled by the scene I see in Job 1:20–21, after he receives the news that all his children have been killed: "Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.... ‘the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.'"

That is not a portrait of happiness. That is a description of a righteous man in real anguish and visible mourning, clinging to the goodness of His God with the fingertips of faith—and that is a portrait of worship.

When there is nothing to thank God for in the moment circumstantially, we have a higher assurance. I love these words from the hymn It Is Well:

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,?
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,?
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,?
Let this blest assurance control,?
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,?
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

I don't know what Mr. Spafford's face looked like while he was writing the lyrics to It Is Well in his ship's cabin as he was passing over the place his daughters had died—but if tears were blurring the ink on his paper, I would hardly be surprised. In the span of three years—1870 to 1873—Horatio Spafford lost all his investments in real estate to the great Chicago Fire, his only son to scarlet fever, and his four daughters to a shipwreck. And yet, worship reverberates through those lyrics in a way that few songs capture.

On good days and bad days alike, my greatest need has already been met. Jesus is mine, and He is the joy of my future home. I won't be bearing a smile every day of my life, but He will always be worthy of tearful thanks.

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