It sounds almost sacrilegious to say that it can sometimes be a sacrifice to praise God. After a double-take, we can examine the truth in the comment. Most who have deeply suffered can identify with such a bizarre statement. Chronic illness and/or trauma in ones life can bring the suffering it takes to find sacrifice for our God, that is more than worthy of all of our praise. It’s okay to get our feet wet while learning deeper ways of praising God.
When our faith is questioned by others during our times of suffering, it is an opportunity to reflect and examine to see if there is any truth. I know, not a comforting thought. Instead of cringing away from the thought, let’s wade in a bit deeper and explore.
Usually people do not clearly know where our faith stands, and we do not clearly know theirs. Only God truly knows our hearts and the comments of others are not based on truth because they cannot see into the inner workings of our hearts. When others have not suffered as we have and praising God through it, they have not earned the right to speak into our faith.
“then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart),” ~ 1 Kings 8:39 NIV
“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” ~ 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV
When I was able to separate others empty insights and God’s truth, I was able to look more deeply into my own faith and how I chose to praise God through the suffering. I could see the sacrifice it took to choose to praise God.
Suffering can bring with it a turning inward, on many levels, resulting in a deeper faith in God.
- The wracking endless physical pain removes the frivolous extravagances of this world that are meaningless. Comfort no longer means what it used to.
- The emotional pain removes pride that no one can begin to understand without the experience.
- The spiritual pain takes one on a journey of gratitude and praise that is not visible to people of this world. Sometimes not even visible to other Christians.
Praising God Through Voice and Silence
I can only speak for myself on this one.
Through the suffering of chronic illness and trauma, I found my voice and my unique silence that both were firmly planted in Christ.
My voice may not be heard by others but I certainly found it, for me, not them. Finding my voice has been a walk of faith between me and the Lord, no one else. This journey of suffering has given me permission to even be able to speak, to realize that as a human I have the right to a voice, regardless of others choices. How can I have the right to praise the God who created me when I do not believe I have the right to a voice?
There have been times I have shouted truth from the rooftops about our Lord and he was the only one listening. I am okay with that because the Lord is the only one who truly matters.
When we walk through suffering, sometimes we get so isolated that we do not have the support of other Christians and there are no resources to gain them at the moment. We can be so far beyond physical limitations we cannot go to church or meetings. In time, it will change. We have learned about the value of isolation, and there are times for it. Our faith can grow more deeply in isolation at times.
Our faith can come in different colors, we were made uniquely. There are some black and white Christian doctrines that do not have optional colors. It is the inner workings of our hearts that can become every shade of color known.
My silence may be judged harshly but that judgment is between them and the Lord, just as my silence is between me and the Lord. I am only responsible for me, not others.
My silence has introduced me to a way of praising God that I did not understand until the intense longterm suffering. Suffering has its unique benefits that I would not trade for anything on this earth.
In my silence, I know that I know that I know that I absolutely know that God already has this sorted out. His plan is already in motion, my words cannot change that and I do not want them to. My silence keeps me on his path, not mine.
My silence helps me hear his voice, not mine.
My silence creates space to see those tiny miracles in my life that actually carry the same weight as the big ones.
My silence gives me the patience for others that refuse to hear a word I say. It allows me to not only have a bit more patience for them but to try to learn how I cannot do to others what they have done to me.
My silence makes me smile. No one can touch my relationship with Jesus. It is the most valuable relationship I have and I will not let others twist it by my misinterpreted words.
My silence allows me to calm myself when nothing makes sense. There are no words on this planet that can explain everything so everyone can understand, impossible. There are no words that can clarify some situations. God’s word is our only truth.
He will deliver me and I will glorify him. Sometimes we praise God through our voice and sometimes through our silence. Only the Holy Spirit can tell us when to use each. For me, those are only two of the ways I can praise God.
A walk with Christ is not always clear but the journey allows growth and praise.
“Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High. And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” ~ Psalm 49:14-15 NIV
Where is the Sacrifice In Praise?
That is the hardest part for me to understand much less articulate how I see it. I see the benefits of praise, no matter what. Yet there are some worldly complications.
Sacrificial Praise for God Through Voice
There is sacrifice in having a voice for God. There will be misunderstanding, judgment and persecution based on our words alone, even when they are pure truth.
When the Lord leads us to speak, and we do, there is no better place to be, even in persecution.
Sacrificial Praise for God Through Silence
There is a price to be paid for silently praising God. The price is only a temporary earthly dilemma.
Some of the greatest people have chosen silence as a tool (mixing it in with a strong voice), resulting in sacrifice. Gandhi, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (one of my all-time favorites), Jim Elliot and missionary friends, etc. People have used their silence throughout the ages, and have sacrificed dearly.
Jesus was our perfect example of using both voice and silence appropriately. Scripture is filled with these examples. It is the times of silence that bowl me over in amazement of the power of such.
Without fail, every time I have been instructed by the Lord to be quiet, he has provided one thing or another of eternal value. I will embrace the eternal benefits and let the earthly sacrifices roll off of my back like water on a duck.
Ultimate Sacrifice Through Voice and Silence
Jesus has given us the ultimate example of sacrifice by praising God in silence. Our understanding of this, our acceptance of this, our love of him for this gives us the perfect gift of eternal salvation through him.
Throughout his life, Jesus had times of speaking truth through his voice, and other times of silence. He sacrificed everything for the sake of praising God, for our benefit. Through my suffering I have remained steadfast in my faith.
In the fairness of what I deserve, I have been humbled.
In the unfairness, I have learned more about the unjustified consequences of others.
In it all, I have learned forgiveness that God has shown me through the unfair sacrifice of his innocent son.
I have learned that there are no limits on sacrifice and there certainly are no boundaries on praising God. Give me the grace not to put boundaries on others unique praise. May I be shown through my sacrifices, how others may sacrifice for the same God who deserves everything. Just be who we were created to be.
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Coach)