A friend recently gave me the book by Ruth Myers called, "31 Days of Praise." It was especially meaningful to me to read in the preface, Ruth's story of how she lost her husband to cancer and was left a young widow with 2 small children to raise. If there is anyone who is familiar with shattered dreams, heartache and loneliness, it's Ruth. So when she talks about praising God in the midst of darkness and suffering, I find myself paying attention because she's been there and she knows.
There is something incredibly powerful about praising the Lord when your whole world has fallen apart. I discovered that for myself several months ago. One morning I got up early because my heart was in turmoil and pain and I couldn't sleep. I just could not believe that anything good could come from my husband filing for divorce and abandoning me and the children. But as I sat wrestling with God, the Holy Spirit asked me to praise Him.
What? Praise Him for this?? How on earth could I do that? But He gently insisted. So as a simple act of my will, with all my emotions protesting loudly, I opened my mouth and through tears I began to praise Him. I thanked Him that my husband had rejected me. I thanked Him for the divorce papers that he had filed. I thanked Him for all those things that felt like little spears thrust into my heart. I thanked Him that He is God.
The strangest thing happened. It was like a quiet, peaceful warmth came over me. My heart was at rest and didn't hurt anymore. It was surreal. I wasn't sure what was going on, but I knew something was different. All that pain, fear, anger was just gone. So I sat for a while just enjoying the quiet in my soul and the love I felt from the Father.
After some reflection, I began to understand more of what had happened. When I choose with my will to praise God even for the things that are destroying my life and causing so much pain, it's like my spirit by faith reaches through the dark and grabs hold of the hand of Jesus. I lay hold of the truth that "all things work together for good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose." I am trusting that His heart is good towards me, even when He lets me suffer. I receive hope that even this horrible thing in our lives, in the hands of Jesus, is turning out for our highest good.
Although since that day, I have had many times of anger, pain, fear, doubt, loneliness -- you name it, I have not forgotten that simple truth. I might spend a few days wrestling with God, but eventually, He gets me back to that place of surrender and praise.
And interestingly enough, I'm still married. My husband moved to another state and will have to refile when he becomes a resident. Although nothing has changed in his heart about our marriage and my circumstances as a virtual single mom are still the same, yet the Lord continues day by day to give me reason to praise Him.
Surely our griefs, He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried. Isaiah 53:4
Because You are my help
I sing in the shadow of Your wings.
My soul clings to You;
Your right hand holds me up. Psalm 63: 7,8