When we think of all God has done, and how much he loves us, it is easy to follow the command that ends the book of Psalms: ‘Let everything that breathes praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!’
This was how I ended a Psalm 150 family discipleship guide, written to help parents and children discuss the lessons learned from this week’s study of Psalm 150, the final psalm of the book and the final psalm of our teaching series.
Reading these words back a few days later, I initially had the fear that perhaps they’re a bit too trite, a touch cliched.
But they’re not.
If I actually did think of all that God has done in my life, and of how much he loves me, I would have no trouble praising him. My failure to praise, to rejoice, is a direct result of my closed eyes and hardened heart. It has nothing to do with God’s worthiness to be praised.
The heart that struggles to follow the command laid out by Psalm 150:6 is the same heart that hears John 3:16 without awe and wonder:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Those words ought to take my breath away. I ought to be following Psalm 150’s guide, picking up my tambourine and cymbals, dancing and singing praise to my God. God the Father loved me enough to send his beloved son to die on my behalf, paying the price for my sins. Christ chose to lay down his life for mine, conquering sin, death, and Satan so that I could live. Because of this sacrifice, the Holy Spirit dwells within me, guiding my steps and making clear the word of God.
The triune God of the universe has done great things for me.
But what about when I don’t feel that truth?
Paul, in Philippians 4, gives us a good answer:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We rejoice always. Not feeling it? Rejoice always. Deeply anxious? Pray, rejoicing always. Lacking peace? Rejoice always, knowing that the God of the universe is guarding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Rejoicing in God comes first. Praise comes first.
Psalm 150 doesn’t say “let everything that is feeling joyful praise the Lord,” nor does it say, “let everything that feels hope praise the Lord.”
Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.
If you’re breathing, praise the Lord.
This praising, this rejoicing, will focus your mind and heart back to the God of peace and joy, power and provision. If we wait to praise God until we feel it, we miss out on relating to the only one who can calm the storms we’re experiencing, while we experience them. Your salvation is not dependent upon your feelings, so don’t let your praise be either.
Let your cheery, hurting, joyful, flat, hopeful, and scared heart praise the Lord.
With every breath you’ve got, praise the Lord.