Paula’s Ponderings #2:  The Power of Praise and Thanksgiving  

 

Recently a friend shared with me a story about a potentially “scary” situation that her family went through. Prior to the situation the Lord had given her a dream to reassure her that He would get them through it. As a result they didn’t have any fear and instead God was able to use it to strengthen their faith. 

In thinking of her situation I was reminded of a dream that I once had and a couple of potentially “scary” situations that God brought us through. About fifteen years ago I was in a fellowship where there was a great emphasis on praising and thanking God no matter the situation. Around that same time a friend recommended to me the book “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers which also had the same message. Still around that same time the Lord gave me a very vivid dream as described below. 

I was with a group of people in a large room of a very large building. I looked out the window and saw a massive fire ball rolling toward the building at high speed. I turned and said to the other people, “Quick, start praising the Lord.” At once we all began doing so and as a result the fire ball rolled right over the building without causing any harm. God seemed to be saying that as long as we continued to praise Him, nothing could harm us. 

We have tried to train our children to praise the Lord and give Him thanks no matter the situation. Sometimes when they whine and ask “How come this or that happened?”, I’ll simply tell them it is because God wants them to learn to praise and thank Him amidst affliction. I have to admit this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek due to the great lack of true affliction in our lives. It has seemed to pay off, however. 

A little over a year ago our family of eight was traveling home from Wisconsin in our heavily loaded twelve passenger van. We had stayed the night with some friends in the St. Louis area and were on a large four lane highway traveling south when one of our back tires blew out and sent us spinning down the highway. Thankfully my husband was driving, not me, but he’ll admit to having no control of the vehicle. Amazingly, even though this was a very heavily traveled highway there was nobody behind us at the time and after doing a full 360 (not in a straight line mind you) we came to rest off the right side of the highway facing south, as if we had simply pulled over into the grass. The most fascinating part about the whole situation was the reaction of everyone in the van. When I turned around to ask the children (ages 5 to 11 at the time) if they were ok and if anyone was scared, they gave me somewhat confused looks as though they had no idea what they were to be scared about. Some of them even thought it was fun. Todd and I also felt no fear. In my case instead of crying out for God to save us as I would have expected, I simply calmly kept saying, “Thank you Jesus” over and over. 

As a result of this experience I realized how much the enemy has trained us through movies and other media to react with fear in such situations. In Christian circles we often hear that joy is an inward condition not dependent upon outward circumstances, but yet we often take it for granted that in “scary” circumstances we will be fearful at least initially. 

My second illustration occurred about eleven years ago with my second pregnancy. My husband and I decided early on to do home births and my first experience with my oldest son was longer and more painful than expected. As a result I found myself rather fearful as we approached the second. Therefore we spent a good deal of time praying against fear in preparation for it. Also, when I’m in pain during labor I sing a little ditty that goes like this, “Praise the Lord, Thank You Jesus…” over and over. God was good and blessed our efforts but it wasn’t until well after the birth that I realized it. An older woman from our local fellowship asked me, “Weren’t you scared?” It was then that I realized how completely God had answered our prayers. I really hadn’t been scared despite the fact that we were surprised by twins with the second one being in the transverse position initially, and we only had friends present and not a trained midwife. 

Here is my own theory on fear and praising God. I think when we are fearful, God’s angels have to spend their time and energy fighting the spirit of fear instead of doing other work such as guiding a van safely to the side of the road or ensuring a safe birth. I believe when we can praise Him and thank Him in the midst of difficult situations then we are empowering the “good guys”, but if we give in to fear then we are giving power to the “bad guys”. I encourage you to try it the next time you are tempted to give in to fear. Also, I highly encourage you to read the book mentioned earlier, “Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. It will inspire you to this end.

(Note:  The photo is of our twin girls (Tiveria and Tikvah) on the day that they were born.)

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