When Praise is a Sacrifice

The calendar turned to a new year. December faded beautifully away. Only to welcome the bitter cold, January mornings when the light slips through the clouds to find it’s way through my living room window. With it’s newness, January brings with it a routine and chance to change. While my blank journal is calling out to me to fill it with new words, new dreams, new prayers, the same longings still scream out from my soul.

While this year ahead is laced in hope and promise, I’m still offering the same sacrifice of praise. Before the calendar page flipped, I found myself several weeks ago so broken before the Lord. On this particular day, my soul just ached. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the cause, but my eyes filled up with tears throughout that day. I was attending a conference with a few friends that night and although wasn’t expecting it, I knew Father was up to something.

My friends and I were talking at dinner before, and I mentioned my heavy heart and weepy eyes. As walked into the service, there was a shift in the atmosphere. Father was amongst us. Worship began and I found myself standing with my head down and arms open, saying to Him with my body and soul all I have belonged to Him. In those moments of beautiful sounds, when normally I couldn’t help but sing, I just found myself weeping.

All I felt was pain. And the tension that is found living in hope and unanswered prayers. Standing on the edge of Canaan, waiting on the promise. Believing in the words He had spoken over me, yet seeing my same circumstances, the one I’ve asked Him to deliver me for years. Begging for breakthrough for a family member and interceding on their behalf. I felt as though there was nothing to offer, nothing of beauty to offer the King.

It was if suddenly the music came to a quiet hush, the people worshipping around me faded away, and the Holy Spirit whispered ever so loudly to my heart, “Jessica, worship me through this pain. Praise me in the middle of unanswered prayers, in the waiting of this promise, and the intercession. This is your offering. What you are bringing me is a sacrifice of praise, and it’s the most beautiful to me.”

Something unlocked in my heart that night.

It’s easy to worship Father when we see His Words manifest over our lives and loved ones. It’s natural for us to praise Him when the sun is shining and all of our bills are paid. It’s a normal response to worship when our kids are healthy and our marriages are thriving. Anyone can do that. It doesn’t cost us much.

But when our hearts are broken and we are crying out to Father from the desperate places of our soul, something shifts, I believe both in our lives and heaven. When up from the ashes our worship rises, all of heaven stops to listen.

Bill Johnson says, “I need to take the pain of loss, confusion and disappointment and hold them really close to my heart and in that context, give God praise. In heaven, I won’t have any confusion, pain, loss, disappointment, the only opportunity that I have in all of my existence to give Him an offering that cost me that is now.”

This is our only opportunity to give the Father a sacrifice of praise. Right now, when we still live in this fallen world with lots of pain. We have this one chance to declare in the midst of our greatest heartbreak that He is good and worthy. That all of our lives belong to Him. I’ve noticed that bringing this offering to Him not only changes our hearts and moves His, but it changes the hearts around us. They see a glimpse of His worth, when we stand in the middle of our pain, with our heads bowed and hands raised, saying “It’s not much, but all that I have is Yours.”

Photo by  Sophie Brendle Photo by  Sophie Brendle

Photo by Sophie Brendle

There will be a day, when He answers this prayer. The one that has propelled me into Him. The one that has increased my desperation to know Him. One day, I know more than anything, it will be fulfilled. And on that day, I’m afraid I might look a bit like David, dancing naked in the street. But until then, I’ll keep bringing Him this pain as an offering and praising Him through it. Because I’ve tasted and seen just how good He is. I’ve seen a glimpse of His worth.

And I am compelled, to sacrifice my best to Him, even if sometimes that looks like pain.