We had the privilege to go on an extended vacation last summer. We traveled throughout the western United States and visited many of our national parks.
The sights and sounds were incredible. Often, the primary sound we heard was silence, as the beauty of the national park was mesmerizing in itself … words were impossible to describe the beauty and we just drank in the view.
The Grand Tetons were magnificent in their snow-topped heights, and sprawling majesty.
The colors and pillars (called “Hoodoos”) of Bryce Canyon became etched in our minds as we considered the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork.
Monarch Pass in Colorado, at an elevation of 11,312 feet, was windy, cold and dizzying when viewing the mountaintops that surrounded the parking lot at the summit.
Descending form the parking area, the mountains were up close and personal. Visages of raw power, strength and rugged beauty.
We were praising God throughout our trip as we saw glorious, sculpted rock pillars in numerous variations of colors and shapes, and prevalent even along the highways. We praised our God for the beauty of the mountains and for the wondrous provision of water, lakes, rivers, ponds and fountains throughout the hills and byways.
The hymn “How Great Thou Art” does a good job of summarizing our reaction and wonder as we got a view of God’s creation that was different than we usually experience in East Tennessee.
HOW GREAT THOU ART
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
Of course, the hymn does not describe merely the creation that God has provided to us, it goes on to describe the glories of salvation that God has given when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Creation tells us that God exists. Salvation tells us the magnitude of God’s love for His people in that He sent Christ to pay for our sin. Praise is the our rightful response for both His creation and His gift of salvation.
The Book of Psalms in the Bible is the hymnbook of the Israelites, and it is full of exhortation to praise the Lord. Here are just some of the verses that admonish us to praise Him:
“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:”
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”
“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!”
“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!“
The book of Psalms ends with this same exhortation that applies to everyone:
“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!”
Oh, that I would remember how great our God is even during the humdrum activities of life that so often seem to be frustrating and irritating. When we consider all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ, His Son, we should be shouting our praise and love for Him from the housetops, in everything that we do and in all the ways we serve others.
Praising the Lord is a matter of the heart. We can have a settled heart and mind because we can praise the Lord through whatever comes our way. Praise Him when good things happen, certainly. That’s not hard! But, praising Him when adversity may arise is difficult. We know that pain will be present in our lives; difficulties will present themselves at unexpected and usually inconvenient times; heartache will interrupt our lives when malevolent activities cause grief and loss.
Beloved, no matter what we may have to endure, nothing will take us out of the Hand of our God, the Almighty God who uses even these hard times to transform us into the image of His Son. This is why we can praise the Lord even as we are in tears.
“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!”
Praise the Lord. I am challenging myself to make praise my “default position” before God. Care to join me in this challenge?
Father, I praise Your Name for the wonder and glory of salvation through Christ our Lord. I praise You Name when I see the creation that You have placed before me, and when I think of Your steadfast love and mercy. Enable me to praise You even more each day, and may I make praise my “default position” before You!