When my children were little we taught them to “say grace.”

God is good. God is great.

These words were as familiar as my little one’s faces and I knew them to be true. But then my son was killed and my world was shaken.

God is good. God is great.

When I asked my daughter if there were any songs that came to mind for her brother’s services she said, “all I can think of is, I will Praise You in the Storm.” I’m so thankful for her wisdom in that moment. We were miles above the ground in a small plane traveling home from the hospital where our son, her brother, took his final breaths. Rain was falling in the night sky and tears were slipping from our eyes but God was holding our Ryan. She was right. We will praise Him in the storm. While our world was changing, our God was the same.

God is good. God is great.

Being a ministry leader, bible study teacher, and speaker, I had spent countless hours sharing the goodness of God. Was He still good? Yes. My heart was crushed with grief, but my God was and is and forever will be, good and great. I admit, everything felt less than right and led me to whisper these words in my Pastor’s ear one Sunday morning, “this doesn’t feel like love.” I didn’t want to say them, but I needed to get them out loud and begin to sort through them. No, my circumstances did not feel like love and the depth of my pain ran deep and hurt heavy but I knew my Father loved me. Saying those words aloud helped me face them and gave me an opportunity to share them with my Pastor, but more importantly, with my Creator.

When my feeling are overwhelming my thoughts, I trust Him alone to help me.

Our good and great God is able to remind us of His love even in times of despair.

So, I took all the tangled emotions to God is prayer. I laid them before my Comforter and asked Him to strengthen me and give me peace and joy. I asked expectantly, because He can do more than we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I couldn’t imagine any of what I was experiencing ending in praise and yet, there I sat with my bible and my journal each morning, writing praise to my Father, the One who holds us in our time of need.

His word reminded me that God was faithful and His promises spoke life and hope to my heart. My Father knew I longed for good and great where there seemed to none in sight.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Days turned into months and months into a year. During this time, 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, breaking through the dirt of grief, 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.

As we lift our voices, praising Him for who He is, He 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. You can also.

The prophet Habakkuk shares the key to unlocking God’s strength in barren times. In Habakkuk chapter 3:18-19 we read, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Praise God for His strength.

My daughter knew the song. I knew the chapter and verse when the Pastor asked about what to share at our son’s homecoming celebration. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” An intentional practice of offering praise opens the gateway for joy, hope, peace, and many more blessings from the Lord. I knew this to be true. I was experiencing it before my world was shaken by death and after. After, I took watch, trusting the Lord, praising Him for His goodness, using the scriptures when all other words left. 

An intentional practice of offering praise opens the gateway for joy, hope, peace, and many more blessings from the Lord.

I trust this process 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 us, on a verse by verse journey this December during the Advent season using 25 Days of Praise. We will read God’s word and praise His name as we prepare to celebrate Jesus this Christmas. Donna and I, along with others, will share short devotionals each day in December on Facebook and Instagram and use our praise cards to begin our time in the word each day. You can learn more and purchase 25 Days of Praise at kellyostanley.com. 

 

God is good. God is great. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

~ Jodie