I remember the first time I knew for certain that God was listening. I was eight years old, and though I knew for certain He heard me, I wasn’t sure of all God was and is.
I remember the first time I heard a preacher passionately preach, saying only the many names of God. It was powerful. My heart felt as though it filled fuller with every name he spoke. My love for the Father was building as I focused on all He was and is.
And I remember the sullen Sunday morning that I stepped into church and saw my Pastor’s familiar and warm face. I leaned in close so no one could overhear the quiet words I spoke. “This doesn’t feel like love.” I didn’t want anyone to hear because even though it didn’t feel like love, I trusted and believed God was and is—Love (1 John 4:16).
My heart just needed time to heal from the deep hurt that comes from losing a son. It hadn’t been more than a few weeks since his death.
Every morning after he died, I remember waking up and walking up to the upper room of my house. My blanket and Bible were waiting. I would open the scriptures and search for words of comfort and hope. It took some time but what I noticed was my lack of prayer and my abundance of praise. Now let me pause and say, I think the two go hand in hand.
But for me, prayer as I knew it was altered. I didn’t know what to say or ask.
However, as I would read God’s word, I began to see an unfolding of who He is:
My First Love.
I could go on and on.
His promises soothed my hurting heart and held me together when I felt I would fall apart.
Nothing else seemed certain except God Almighty. He was and is and always will be (Revelation 4:8).
Two months passed, and a new year began. A year I didn’t want to start. It would be difficult, but my Strength (Habakkuk 3:19) would not fail. He doesn’t. The Sovereign Lord says, “my power is perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That year on the first of January, I wrote a declaration in my journal, “Let this be a year of rejoicing…in WHO You are, the gifts You give, and the life You offer.” Psalm 31:9-10 reminded me of the Mercy-Giver that would comfort me in my time of grief, while verse 7 of the same reminded me of His unfailing love. Praise began to unleash in my heart, and the healing process began.
Days turned into months and months into a year. I called on God as my Refuge and Rescue (Psalm 71:1-2). The Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, planted a seed, and it grew, producing joy. I shouldn’t be surprised; our Gardner (John 15:1) can take tragedy and cultivate a harvest of goodness when no one else can. As we draw near to Him, He listens. How sweet it must be when He hears our praise.
El Roi, the God who sees His children, awaits with comfort and strength. I know because His word promises these things and because I have experienced His comfort and strength in the hardest of circumstances. What began as unintentional is now intentional.An intentional practice of offering praise opens the gateway for joy, hope, peace, and many more blessings from the Lord. Click To Tweet
I trust this so much that I created a card set to prompt me and others to remember to praise God for who He is and all He offers. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” That is you and me, right? If we are reading this, we are breathing—Praise the Lord! You can join me, and many sisters, on a verse by verse journey this December during the Advent season using these cards. We will read God’s word and be prompted to praise God as we prepare to celebrate Jesus this Christmas. You can learn more and purchase 25 Days of Praise at kellyostanley.com.