Praising God in Tough Times
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Each of us will experience loss or pain at some point in our lives. During those times, it is normal to experience sadness and even depression. Praising God builds a shield around our hearts and minds so that we don’t sink into despair.
Several years ago I experienced many losses and felt overwhelmed and discouraged. During those months I made a commitment to continue my habit of praising God every morning. Some mornings while I listened to worship music, I knelt and cried. As I offered God my tears and my trust, some of my sadness was released and my faith was rekindled. Like Job, I was able to say, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”1 As I knelt in worship each morning, God’s presence came close and I felt comforted in my sorrow.
Here are some tips for praising God during times of grieving, sadness, or discouragement:
Look back. Praising God for how He’s been faithful in the past can give you hope that He will continue to be faithful in the present and in the future.
Let your tears flow. Praising God doesn’t always come from a happy heart. It’s okay and even good to allow yourself to cry during times of grief. Sometimes weeping is our worship.
Develop a set of “emergency verses.” During times of grief, it is comforting to praise God using Scripture that is familiar and special to you personally. Some of my favorites are Psalms 34, 46, 91, and John 15.
Take a worship walk. Walking releases endorphins, and worship strengthens your faith. Combined, you’ll find your spirits lifted.
Keep a Thankful List. I learned this during a particularly rough season in my life. Each night before I went to bed, I recorded 3–5 things that had happened that day for which I felt thankful. After praising God for each one, I was able to fall asleep feeling encouraged.—Becky Harling2
When the Apostle Paul says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord,” he doesn’t say to only be joyful in good times. Even when times are tough, the Bible teaches we can be joyful if we follow this simple strategy:
Don’t worry about anything. Worrying doesn’t change anything. It’s stewing without doing. There are no such things as born-worriers. Worry is a learned response. You learned it from your parents. You learned it from your peers. You learned it from experience. That’s good news: The fact that worry is learned means it can also be unlearned.
How do you unlearn it? Jesus says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”3 He’s saying don’t open your umbrella until it starts raining. Live one day at a time.
Pray about everything. Instead of worrying, use your time for praying. If you prayed as much as you worried, you’d have a lot less to worry about. Is God interested in car payments? Yes. He’s interested in every detail of your life. That means you can take any problem you face to God.
Thank God in all things. When you pray, pray with thanksgiving. The healthiest human emotion is not love but gratitude. It actually increases your immunities. It makes you more resistant to stress and less susceptible to illness. People who are grateful are happy. But people who are ungrateful are miserable, because nothing makes them happy. They’re never satisfied. It’s never good enough. So if you cultivate the attitude of gratitude, of being thankful in everything, it reduces stress in your life.
Think about the right things. If you want to reduce the level of stress in your life, you must change the way you think, because the way you think determines how you feel. And the way you feel determines how you act. The Bible teaches that, if you want to change your life, you need to change what you’re thinking about.
This involves a deliberate, conscious choice where you choose to think about the right things. We need to choose to think on the positive and on God’s Word.
What is the result of not worrying, praying about everything, giving thanks, and focusing on the right things? Paul says we will then “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”4—Rick Warren5
We all go through times of stress and need someone we can look up to for relief. It can be a best friend’s inspirational words, music, or most importantly, God. No matter what the circumstance we can always rest in the fact that God will always be faithful.
God will shine his light on us, and when we ask, He will help us get through the hard times. If you happen to be struggling today, or if you know someone who may be struggling, then you have come to the right place for healing.
Below are [several] uplifting Bible verses that are a blessing when going through hard times:
Psalms 119:67–68—Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
Isaiah 55:6—Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.
Psalm 34:17—When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
2 Corinthians 9:8—And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Colossians 1:13—He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
Proverbs 3:5–6—Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.—John Callahan6
Published on Anchor October 2015. Read by Jason Lawrence.
1 Job 1:21.
2 Becky Harling, The 30-Day Praise Challenge (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2013).
4 Philippians 4:7 NLT.