Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Sacrifice of Praise

In the Bible we are told to rejoice always, pray continually, and to give thanks to God in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  What does that look like practically?  How do we flesh this out, the very will of God for our lives?    

I have wrestled with these questions throughout the past three and a half years.  I certainly do not want to miss out on God’s will and best for my life.  I want to offer him praise and thanks, and sometimes this flows easily from my lips. 

However at other times, the last thing on my mind and heart is praise.  I struggle instead, feeling crushed under the weight of reality... the pain in my own life and the injustice easily found in the lives around me.

Although we are grateful we now have many more good days than bad, the end of last week fell into the difficult category.  Unexpected comments triggered trauma and sadness.  Navigating the world of health insurance and Medicaid in a new state left me defeated.  And the therapeutic horseback riding for John we had been looking forward to was bittersweet.

John seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first lesson.  “Pinkie” the pony was a perfect fit for my 3-year-old boy and his little hips.  There was so much for which to be grateful: living in a city with so many resources and that therapeutic horseback riding is offered starting at age 3, that the funds have been provided to participate in this therapy, that my dear friend’s aunt is John’s instructor and the lead therapist at the horse park, that the rain subsided in time for John’s lesson, and that John is alive and healthy enough to be able to enjoy the fresh air and feel the horse’s every movement as he sauntered around the arena. 
Meeting Pinkie

But after parking in three different places with our handicap placard hanging from the rearview mirror, each time taking John out of his car seat and putting him in his stroller only to put him back in his car seat and try to find our way to the correct place to begin his session, and after seeing John not able to control his trunk and head on the horse as well as I had hoped, discouragement fell upon me before I even knew it was knocking at my door. 

Reaching for a toy while on Pinkie 

Yes, I am grateful therapeutic horseback riding is available.  No, I am not grateful that John needs it.  Honestly, I’d rather be at a play date at the park, watching John swing on the monkey bars and chase (or even antagonize) his little brother.

Sometimes praise is second nature.  And sometimes it feels like work.  Like a sacrifice.  Fortunately, God understands this. In fact, He anticipates this and guides us:

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.”  -Hebrews 13:15

My amazing friend, Lisa, led me to this verse 3 years ago almost to the day, after Warren had passed away and John was struggling in the PICU with relentless seizures at nearly 3 months of age.  She encouraged me that praise can move mountains and sometimes we must sacrificially go through the motions, offering our praise, and trusting God to enable our hearts to catch up.  Neither of us felt like worshiping God, but we chose to put on our “big girl panties” and lift up some praise. Again, I was desperate and was willing to do/try anything that I thought would give us God’s ear and convince Him to rest His favor upon John. Whether or not this is how faith should operate, the Lord was gracious and allowed us to bring our second born home within the week, and he has never had to be readmitted to the hospital.

This instruction to offer a sacrifice of praise sprung back to my mind over the weekend as I reflected on John’s horseback riding lesson and my subsequent melancholy outlook. Upon looking up this passage and studying it further, I was drawn to two essentials:

1) How can we offer a sacrifice of praise?  Only through Jesus and His strength.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” -Hebrews 13:15

2) Why do we offer a sacrifice of praise?  See verse 14:
 “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.
We have the benefit of an eternal perspective, knowing we are to live fully for Christ on this earth but that this broken world is not our true home. 

John, Pinkie, and I are all excited about his second lesson
today and thanking God for this opportunity.

You may be in a season in which praise and thanksgiving come easily, or, in stark opposition, they may feel like lifting an elephant and carrying him across a river (I have no idea where that analogy just came from, but I like the mental image; haha!).  Regardless, I hope we can learn to offer sacrifices of praise to the Lord while looking for “the city that is to come” and trusting God hears both our cries of lament and joy. 


  1. Thank you for your honesty! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I will continue to keep you all in my prayers.


  2. Incredible pics of John and Pinkie!!! Love and miss that boy terribly!

  3. So needed this life lesson today for myself! Thank you making me not feel so alone in my anger, discouragement and down-right pity party because everything bad that could happen has with my health problems. Praying for you guys!

  4. Hi again

    I am a friend of Emily Luck's - I emailed you a few years ago and still enjoy keeping up with y'all. Anyway, one of my coworkers developed an app that will text you or email you at random points of the day and ask you what you are thankful for right then. Having a spirit of gratitude is something that I struggle with sometimes, (because I too struggle with anxiety and panic attacks), and this has really helped me slow down. The app also records everything you send it and makes it a long list that you can back and look at whenever. If you are interested, here it is You probably don't realize it but your blog has been a huge source of encouragement for me and I am sure many others, so thank you. You will continue to be in my thoughts!