James writes, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” – 1:18
A reference to this very scripture explains what James 1:18 means is the book of 1 Peter which states, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;” -2:9
To be chosen of God, to be loved by God without doing anything but be chosen, to be invited into his presence, to know his peace, love, mercy, and grace. It is a gift, it is a blessing, and something I know I could not afford. We are his glory, that through each of us he has the ability to show his power, his glory, his love, and his truth. That we may be the example of what it truly means to be changed by a personal relationship with Christ, in that we worship him in spirit in truth. We show this type of consecrated worship, love, and daily walk in the good times AND the bad times.
As I was sitting in church the minister got up and talked about how it is easy to praise him in when things are good, when you get that new job, when you past the test that works on the development on your spiritual character. It is easy to say to those who are struggling to trust in the Lord, to lean on him, and depend on him. It is easier to lift your hands and worship him with thankfulness when life is going great. On the opposite side of the coin is the hard season, the season where what you told someone to do in their hard season makes you sit down. You have to take time to think deeply about putting on that same encouragement. It is not easy when the storm is raging, when you can’t see in front of you. It is not easy when you want to know the outcome knowing that you have the opportunity to trust God whether the results are good or bad. You go through the emotions the ups and down of the journey now accepted.
The minister went on to say though as the rain is pouring, as the wind is raging, as the bad may get worse you have to get to a point to where you can praise your hands and say thank you Jesus, to praise his name, not because you want the situation to go away and that is how you wish it away. Not because you are doing your best to be a “good” christian and praise regardless of pain, grief, and the storm to prove how strong you are. No, you praise him because no matter what he is good. Your praise him because he as David says in my favorite Psalms, ” Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heart the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.” 6:8-9 This is after he was honest with the Lord about how he felt and shared with him he watered the couch with his tears.
You praise him, and rejoice in him because he is not a God that he should be mocked, he keeps his promises to never leave or forsake you. Jesus continues the perfect work in you through the trials and tribulations, that you grow deeper in him as you learn to lean on him, as you learn to fall on the rock which is Christ Jesus. You begin to form a foundation that is not knocked down by winds or waves. Your hope, your anchor, your identity, your foundation, your life, everything is in Jesus and there is no fleeing from his presence. So while you are in Jesus to praise him is the only option, to rejoice in the valley with tears in your eyes, with even grief in your heart, with blood running down as you are in the fight, to be able to say thank you Jesus, to be able to look to the hill is the next step.
We are called to be real, with ourselves and God. We are called to grow closer to God through Jesus, we are called to experience a salvation that saves beyond your own life as you teach your children how to pray, read their word, and as they watch you in the storm. Peace, be still. It’s peculiar, it’s not normal to praise God in a devastating situation, but we are a peculiar people.
As I stood with tears in my eyes on the deck outside of my job not knowing if my dad had cancer or not, not knowing if the seizures would stop, not knowing why he was having the seizures in the first place, and on top of that he was on a ventilator. I stood there tears in my eyes, devastated, angry, lost, scared. I knew I couldn’t stay there and I began to just say, “Okay, Lord I trust you. You are in control, no matter what happens you are in control. I trust you, I trust you Lord, I trust you, I trust you Lord, I trust you.” Tears still streamed down my face and each time I said that I trust him strength came. Amen. It was more than words, I believed I could trust him even if I couldn’t see how the situation would turn out. Sooner or later my perspective changed from pain, fear, and the unknown to thankfulness to be able to lean on him. I began to thank him.
I still didn’t know what was going to happen and the outcome is not the point, it is the journey in between the out come, it is the response in between the outcome. Amen. Regardless of the outcome and though I am believing for a full recovery for my father, what matters most is am I still growing in the one who chose me, chose to love me, and chose to call me to himself because in the end that is what matters, developing a relationship with him and going deeper. And as my father heals he is doing the same. Amen.
So it may be odd to you at first to give him a praise in tragedy, in hard seasons, and even in disappointment. Know this though what you are apart of is not odd to Jesus, it’s not odd to the father, it’s apart of the journey as you mature in him. Day by day step by step. It’s apart of the journey to be real and to shift your perspective. Amen.
Lord I just pray for leading in guidance in for those this hard season. This season of learning to lean and trust in you Jesus. I pray Lord that as we continue on in this hard season that we begin to praise you for who you are and the you are in control no matter the outcome, knowing that you are good. I pray Lord you continue to show up, and meet our need as we commune daily with you. I pray these things in your name, and thanking you for this prayer being already done and worked in the minds and hearts that need it Lord including myself. I thank you Lord for your peace, your clarity, your grace, and your presence Lord. I thank you for you healing, I thank you for your goodness, and your love. I thank you for who you are Lord and I thank you for what you have done so far. I praise your name. Amen.