Sacrifice o’ Praise

“A great many things in God’s divine providences do not look like goodness to the eye of sense. . . .But faith sits before mysteries such as these, and says, ‘The Lord is good, therefore all that He does must be good, no matter how it looks, and I can wait for His explanations.'”–Hannah Whithall Smith

I’ve cried so often in the past several weeks that I’m considering giving up makeup forever. (Not being the brightest apple in the bunch, I keep assuming that the threat of running mascara will keep me from tears, but all that really happens is that I end up weeping, usually in some public place, and people urge me to try out to take over Heath Ledger’s spot in the next Batman installment. Awesome).

My spiritual landscape is pretty rough right now. The puzzle pieces of my life and my relationship with God aren’t quite adding up as I’d anticipated, and I’m hurt about it on good days and cock-fighting mad on worse ones. I think this is kind of a dusk night of the soul (it’s not a dark night. I don’t really anticipate ever being spiritually mature enough to undergo a dark night, as the fact that I’m perfectly ok with that illustrates).

But I had a dear, wise friend remind me last week that sacrifices of praise are those that are given under duress. I’ve struggled with what a sacrifice of praise might look like “on the ground,” as it were; there’s a tension between being authentic about your pain and still choosing to praise God in it. I cringe at the thought of any faked enthusiasm, any “Yippee, I’ve just faced death and financial crisis and spiritual ache, but GOD IS SO GOOD! Huzzah!” Honestly, God’s goodness is not immediately apparent to me at this moment.

But I’m choosing to trust that it will become apparent at some point. I’m frustrated that the pieces of my life puzzle that He’s given me aren’t giving me even a hint of a coherent picture, but I’m choosing to trust that He’s still got some pieces up His sleeve that I don’t need to know just yet.

This attempt at praise is admittedly anemic–I tend to be more angry and demanding than humble and submitted when I converse with God. I spend more time choosing fear than I do choosing trust. And I’m pretty convinced that my limits were reached 3 tear-fests ago (God apparently disagrees). I have so far to go before I accept circumstances and inner battles like this graciously, let alone joyfully, and I know I’ll look back at this time and wish I had taken greater advantage of this opportunity to praise Him despite difficulty. But I’m choosing to believe that God can–no. . .will–work through and be glorified by even the minuscule and half-hearted efforts I’m able to make toward praise at this particular moment.

I hope.

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