I always get a kick of memes on social media that have the caption “The Struggle is Real”… usually it has something to do with getting up at some ridiculous hour in the morning after having a few hours of sleep or a car driving down the interstate with three wheels!
Although those memes are hilarious, they are hardly the definition of the real struggles we go through in life. Jesus taught – in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33). Not maybe, not might… but WILL! Most of the struggles we face are not by accident. They are designed to bring us closer to God… even the ones we bring on ourselves.
Trials and tribulations should bring about our most authentic praise.
When I say authentic, I mean real… not religious. Religious praise is when stand up and clap your hands in church because everyone else is doing it or you only praise Him when you’re in worship service because the praise team leader says “Everybody let’s give God some praise!”
Authentic praise is the praise you give God when you can barely hold your head up after receiving horrific news.
The praise you muster up when you are all alone and nobody even knows about. The praise that no one has to urge you to do.
The praise that is a sacrifice… because it would be easier to cry, moan, groan and complain than to truly praise God.
So how is it that we can give God our most authentic praise. I have a few thoughts…
When we are struggling or in a storm, it is a trigger to be honest. To be honest with ourselves, others and most importantly with God. When we are honest with ourselves, we can tell the truth about the situation.
I can admit that there are many trials that I have faced because of my own undoing. Relationships I had been involved in that I never should have entertained and business ventures that cost me more money than they made me. Instead of defending my decisions, I had to learn to be honest with myself about them and deal with the fallout.
If I was going to go to God with these issues, I had to be honest about them…I couldn’t be honest with God until I was honest with myself.
We miss out on God’s best when we refuse to recognize our fault in a situation. Though not all trials are because of us, many of them are. We want God to rescue us from things and people that we eventually wind up going back to because we continue to lie to ourselves. In order to praise God authentically, tell God the truth… not for His sake, but for yours.
Struggles are usually a time for sacrifice. I talk about sacrifice and surrender so much because it is such a huge part of my spiritual journey and also because it is what God requires of me to be authentic.
When God allows circumstances to strip your emotions down to the bare bones… it’s not to harm you but to get you to a place where you realize that you have nothing left…to get you to the end of yourself. The only thing that can fill you up and satisfy you is Jesus Christ.
You know your praise is authentic when you thank God for the things you let go of and not the things you have.
And when I say “things” I don’t mean tangible things only, I mean letting go of habits, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that don’t serve God and quite frankly never served you.
3. God’s Desires
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
I used to think that this verse meant that God would give me what I wanted. That all I needed to do was live right, be a good person and “abracadabra”… I get what I asked for. And sometimes that happened…I got what I asked for and I praised God for it…I praised Him because He answered my prayer the way I wanted Him to.
As I began to study the Bible more and more I learned, however, that maybe this Psalm means something different. Maybe it means that when we lean into God and turn our ear to Him, He will tell us what it is we should want and desire.
I think of those stories I hear of people who suddenly quit their job and go on a mission trip or start a non-profit…all because God had given them a new desire. It’s like they allowed themselves to be pliable and moldable to whatever God had for them.
The Word “delight” in this verse literally means soft, delicate and pliable. When we are going through tough times, it hardens us. We develop rough edges and tattered souls. Psalms 37:4 says though the struggles in life will harden you, allow yourself to be delicate and soft toward God. He will then soothe you and give you rest.
We can authentically praise God when we know that we have allowed the hard times to make us soft toward God!
Though the struggle is indeed real…use them as a trigger to vigorously praise and worship God and watch your life begin to change!
What are some ways you’ve allowed your struggles and trials to bring you closer to God? How has this changed you as a person? Let me know your thoughts!