“Praise God no matter what.” It seems too simple. It seems trite. It seems pointless. But it isn’t. Even scientists and doctors who don’t believe in God tell us that a positive attitude helps people through difficult times. If “being positive” works wonders when it is only a worldly, watered-down version of praising God, imagine the power of truly praising Him from the deepest, darkest pits of our lives.
Hopefully none of us will ever be in as bad a situation as Paul and Silas in prison. They were falsely accused, beaten, injured, immobilized in a lightless cell, and surrounded by the worst criminals of the City. There was no light, no hope, and no way out. It would have been easy to lose their ability to praise God and give in to the poisonous comfort of self-pity.
Darkness like that can be disorienting. We can forget that God is with us, that He has a plan, that there is anything other than our pain. It doesn’t take very long to become disoriented in the dark. Even in a place you know very well, without any lights you will have a difficult time orienting yourself or accomplishing anything. But it doesn’t take much light to give you enough to see by. A small light might not seem like much in a normally lit room. But if you place that same small light in an empty field on a dark night, or in a cave far underground, or in a dungeon shut away from all other light, that small light can be a beacon, guiding you to where you need to go.
When we find ourselves in the darkest places of our lives, when we have gotten as low as we can imagine, and when nothing seems worthwhile, praising God will shine the brightest. There is no way out of depression; no way out of the many tribulations that we can find ourselves struggling through in life; without praise. If you can manage to praise God for the tiniest speck of goodness, that praise can be the light to see the next thing to praise Him for and the next, until you find your way out. Praise is the light that we need to see by. Praise, like light, becomes brighter by its scarcity. When we need it most, the smallest praise can be the light we need to get us through dark times.
“Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.” 1 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
“Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.” Psalm 33:1 (NLT)