It’s rare that I get to worship seated next to my family, but I love to hear their stories from the pew. A couple of weeks ago my daughter was making fun of my husband at dinner. She claimed that his singing in church was off key and all around terrible. His response – “Oh, whatever. To God it sounds like Adele!”
Truer words have never been spoken. When we “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 100:1), it’s music to God’s ears. It’s praise, and yes, it does sound like Adele. Praise is about articulating who God is and what God is like. It’s something we naturally do when singing in worship. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
I have a friend who told me that praise was her “go to” in the early days of the pandemic. She didn’t know what to do, or how to feel, or what to say. She had no words for God or anyone else. But in her state of bewilderment and sadness, she could praise. For her, this meant listening to K-LOVE Radio and simply letting the songs move her heart, sometimes moving her to sing along. This practice was a great comfort and strengthened the love she shares with God.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another occasion for bewilderment and sadness. It’s utterly unbelievable to see grandmothers taking up arms, mothers and teenagers practicing at the shooting range, common citizens answering the call to protect their homeland, their communities, and their right to live free and secure. In response, we offer prayers of intercession, joining the pleas of countless across the globe for God to help and protect the Ukrainian people.
In that vein, we also offer praise. Praise is not only an expression of joy. It is an expression of defiant hope. It is the confession that God’s love is stronger than death and that Jesus, the light of our salvation, will always outshine the darkness. From one of my favorite hymns, “How firm a foundation” (#637 in the hymnal):
Fear not, I am with the, O be not dismayed,
for I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
May we proclaim these words for ourselves and all who cry out for justice, for we are indeed upheld by God’s hand – the pierced hand of the Good Shepherd who lay down his life for the sheep.