Barbara Higby

Purpose in the Praise

Not without Purpose #5

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess. 5:16-18

Praise—God desires it, even commands it. He is not an egoist who needs our worship for validation. Contrary to filling His need, God requests our praise to satisfy our need, and He particularly welcomes it during difficult times.

How does praising God satisfy our needs? What does it do for us?

Praise…

♦  Brings us into God’s presence and gives us an audience with Him, enabling us to replace our fear with His peace.

♦  Redirects our thoughts from an impossible situation to the God with whom nothing is too hard, reminding us of His power and authority.

♦  Turns our vision from inward to upward, taking our eyes off the partial, experiential truth we see and focusing them on the unseen world praise reveals.

♦  Prioritizes the truth of His power and purposes above our pain, revitalizing our hope and refreshing us.

♦  Changes our perspective from temporal to eternal, calming our heart and positioning it to trust.

Basically these five statements have nuances of meaning that say the same thing—in praise we remember who God is as we declare Him to be Lord of all.

The purpose of praise is to point us to God and remind us that He is God and we are not.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Purpose in the Pathos

Not without Purpose #4

Pathos—anguish, despair, sorrow; the emotions produced by tragedy. (I could call it suffering but then it wouldn’t align with my “P” purposes alliteration.) Is there purpose in the pathos, in our suffering, in emotional upheaval?

When our twin girls died at birth, I remember being told I was special to be chosen for this trial because God knew I would endure. Hmm, I sure would like to be ordinary if special means piling on the pain. In the midst of my anguish, I wanted to see a purpose for our loss. Was there one? Is there ever one?

The reality is, dreary as it sounds, life is filled with days of suffering that varies in intensity. On good days we aren’t mindful of pain, but it surrounds us because our world is fallen, imperfect. Failure and disappointment, loss and tragedy are part of the human condition. Is there purpose in the midst of pathos?

There are many purposes we cannot see, but here are a few refining effects I’ve experienced. Pathos—anguish of soul, sorrow of heart—

  • Purifies us—it strips away superficial delights and distractions, revealing what is true, lasting, and of value.
  • Humbles us—it reveals our vulnerability and weakness, but also creates a softness of heart.
  • Makes us ministers of grace—it sensitizes us to the pain of fellow sufferers.
  • Brings us to a place of solitude—a place only God can enter because, in the words of a favorite spiritual, “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…nobody knows but Jesus.”
  • Deepens us—it enriches us and produces fruit that only comes through suffering.
  • Clarifies our perspective—it brings an abrupt realization that life on earth is deficient and temporal and, along with all creation, we begin to “wait eagerly for our adoption…, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

In this place of sorrow and pain, God is bringing forth something beautiful, rich, and lasting.

Endure. Persist. Trust.

Our “momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Purpose in the Path

Not without Purpose #3

The one thing I remember from geometry class (the only thing I remember) is The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Have you ever wondered why the Creator of geometry ignores His own principle?

My road seems to be curved and hilly with detours and potholes, anything but a straight line and a short distance. And yet, there’s much to see (and learn) along the way.

In September, Rich and I traveled to Maine along a scenic route, not the shortest distance but the most beautiful. A straight line would have been faster, but it would have hidden seaside villages and erose shorelines, the sunset on Rock Harbor Marsh, Arnold’s Clam Bar, the lighthouse in Rockland, an out-of-the-way 60’s restaurant, and the incoming tide that strands tourists on a peninsula-turned-island. And we learned about marine life and people and history and nature. The slower route held blessings we would have missed had we driven a straight line.

Assurances in Proverbs tell me not to fret about the twists in my path:

  • In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (3:6)
  • I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. (4:11-12)
  • Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. (4:25-26)

I put God first and He straightens my path. I walk in wisdom and He keeps me from stumbling. I look straight ahead, eyes on Jesus, and my path becomes level and firm.

There is purpose in your path. It’s not a detour—it’s a plan.

 “If God is with you, then your journey is also part of your destination.”  —Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries

Image by jameskirk5692 from Pixabay

Purpose in the Pain

Not without Purpose #2

Complete: full, satisfied, finished, not lacking, total, thorough, whole, proficient, having all necessary parts … perfect.

Is there an adjective in this list you do not want in your life? I didn’t think so. I read these words and they sound too good to be true. I want to be complete, with a full, satisfied heart and the joy it gives. But when I read James, I’m not too thrilled with how he says I can attain this completion.

In the opening words of his letter he wrote, “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4, emphasis mine).

Trials? Testing? Sounds like pain to me. But the beauty is, there’s purpose in the pain.

When I walk through the pain, I become the person I want to be—complete, full, satisfied—on my way to perfection. Pain has a purifying effect on my life and points me to a beautiful tomorrow when all pain will be forgotten and the day of my perfection will come.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4

Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay

Purpose in the Pause

Not without Purpose #1

You’re ready, prepared, eager. Your running shoes are on and your adrenaline’s pumping—but your life resembles a picture paused on your TV screen. Nothing’s happening.

How many times have we heard the tired words, Sometimes God doesn’t say yes or no—He says wait. I call them “tired words” because we’re tired of hearing them. They’re too pat, too trite… too true.

We’re too impatient to pause, but there is purpose in the pause. Our life is not on hold without reason.

Peter gives us insight about the pause in his words about Jesus’ return: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” because in God’s timetable “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8-9). God is not slow and not without purpose—He’s waiting with reason and preparing things for maximum impact.

God promised Israel a land of plenty, a homeland lush and fertile, but they were captives in Babylon. As they sat by streams weeping for home, God’s promise was on a seventy-year pause, but Jeremiah delivered a multi-faceted word from God. (Jer. 29:10-14, 5-7)

♦ He renewed His promise of their homeland: they would return to it. Good news!

♦ He made assurances we cling to today: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Yay, God, we love those words!

♦ He told them how to live during the pause: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce… Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.” God, this is not what we want to hear!

In the pause, we’re to make ourselves at home and increase, not decrease. We can do this when we believe God’s plans are for our blessing, to prosper us and make us more, not less.

Be expectant, multiply, and praise God.

There’s a divine purpose in your pause.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.