I won’t sugarcoat the last few months. They’ve been hard. In some ways, I can pinpoint what’s made them so hard — funerals, family drama, extreme fatigue and pain in my body. On the other hand, there have been many days when I’ve woken up with a sense of dread for no reason. I’ve battled severe anxiety and depression. Fear has gripped me unlike any other time in my life. I’ve felt hopeless and on edge.
Do you know who I told about all the things? Absolutely no one.
Now, I love people. Community is my jam. And I know we’re better together. But I have a confession: More often than I care to admit it, I find myself living as an island. I suffer in silence. I have this need for people to think I can handle anything, that I can take care of myself by myself. I don’t want them to think I’m needy. I don’t do this intentionally. I’ve just always lived this way and have been slow in growing to express my need for God or others.
Though the Lord is working on me with this, I recently fell into isolation, avoidance, and withdrawal again. I completely shut down. I was overwhelmed in every way, and I couldn’t help myself. Before I knew it, it had been months since I’d talked to dear friends. In my everyday and at church, I was simply going through the motions.
I eventually hit a wall and broke down. I knew I needed to be honest with God and with the people in my life. I knew I needed to be vulnerable, even though I have the nagging fear that if I’m 100 percent forthcoming, I won’t be accepted or loved. I’m sure many of you face the same fears — of being left alone and rejected — and shame keeps us in an unending loop of insecurity.
At church, my pastor has been preaching on the power of praise and how the body of Christ needs each other. For months, I had been listening and taking notes, but I felt disconnected to the truths of God’s Word because I was focusing on my circumstances. But slowly, God has been lifting the veil to help me see His goodness, kindness, and faithfulness again, and as He did, I saw I had been missing the very things that I had been learning through my pastor’s sermons.
First, I learned that praise ushers in breakthrough.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
Psalm 22:3 (NIV)
In Psalm 22, David reminds us that the God of the universe, the God of you and me, inhabits our very praises. He doesn’t just sit up high upon His throne in judgment of us. No, He comes down low to meet us. He meets us in our mess, in our shame, and in whatever pit we find ourselves. He sees us and rushes in with His mighty right arm to save us.
Praise becomes the difference in staying stuck and breaking through. It changes our perspective from what we can do in our own strength to what God can do in His. And praising in the context of community can change the atmosphere of our hearts and even the world around us.
Second, I learned that praise is a choice.
To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
Psalm 22:5 (NIV)
David was in a low and discouraging time in His life. He felt neglected by God. He felt defeated by his enemies. All he could see was what was in front of him. I so often choose to focus on my circumstances or my emotions and not the faithfulness of God in my life. David learned from those who came before him that praise is always a choice.
We have the choice to open our mouths to complain to those around us or to proclaim His greatness with those around us. It’s our choice to believe not only that God can but that He will. When we choose to praise Him, we can experience the blessing of intimacy with Him during our broken seasons.
Last, I learned that praise unlocks the fullness of freedom.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Psalm 22:19 (NIV)
What I love about this verse is that David found so much freedom in knowing God was close to him. He remembered that his strength comes from and is found in God. The Lord doesn’t hesitate to move on our behalf, and we don’t have to convince Him to act.
As my focus turned from my circumstances to praising God again, I realized there’s freedom for me to be vulnerable — before God and before my community. I know this probably won’t be the last time I hit a wall or withdraw from people when things get hard, but now I know just how important it is for me to be willing to open myself up even when I’m not used to doing that.
The power of praise and even the beauty of community aren’t formulas that fix our problems, but through them, God shows up to demonstrate to us that we are not alone in our struggle. We don’t have to carry it all by ourselves. We’ve got Him, and we’ve got each other.Leave a Comment