Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
~Psalm 136:26 NIV
It is early and hours before the sun’s first rays will peek over the horizon. The earth still sleeps beneath a blanket of stars, and I can hear the rhythmic breathing of my little dog, dreaming in his bed. Here in the wee hours of the morning, the Lord in His goodness offers the magnificent exchange.
Enjoying the last moments in the comfort of my bed before starting my day, the first line of an old song comes streaming through my mind: “Lord, You are good, and Your mercy endureth forever!”
This morning, having an attitude of gratitude was easy. But it isn’t always so easy to worship. Because of distractions, stress, or pain, I don’t always feel like worshiping. Those are the days when worship is truly a sacrifice of praise–when my body wants to sit like a lump–but worship is His to be offered.
In times such as these, my body is invited to crawl upon the altar to be sacrificed. There may be an element of pain, to be sure, but the aroma of a sacrificed will burned on the Lord’s altar is a thing of beauty. Our prayers are like sweet incense rising before His throne.
When we are grieving or burdened and decide to worship out of obedience, it can feel as if we are meeting an obligation—when we offer to the Lord out of our spiritual poverty. But as the minutes pass, the most remarkable thing begins to happen.
As we offer worship, flames consume our stubbornness, self-indulgence, and narcissism but also a portion of our pain, grief, and burden. God invites us to partake in the magnificent exchange.
And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
~Isaiah 61:2-3 NIV
We can put on a garment of praise to lift a spirit of heaviness. We are all just children, and like children, we often shun our medicine. But as our Great Physician, God’s prescription reads, “Sacrifice of praise. For a spirit of heaviness, take until gone.”
God doesn’t need our worship, for He does not lack self-esteem. Worship is for us. When we lift our praise, our burden will lift like a helium balloon.
What a remarkable transaction. We bring our burdens, sickness, brokenness, confusion, grief, and pain before the King of the universe. And in His compassion, He provides a prescription for our sickness: praise and worship.
What are some ways you can exchange sorrow for joy?
Father, may I find comfort for what ails me—a solution, a new perspective, and a lifting of my grief as I count my blessings and lift Your praise. I marvel at You, the God who beckons me to offer what is broken, to receive wholeness in return. Lord, You are good, and Your mercy endures forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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