PARADOX: – A situation or statement that seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics
Sacrifice. Praise. Two words that seem mutually exclusive. A paradox. Two words that don’t belong together. Praise is like the woohoo of your day, an overflow of happy. It’s exuberant, joyful. It’s something that bubbles easily from a grateful heart. Sacrifice – well that is something that comes at a cost. It’s pain, grief, hurt. Surely sacrifice and praise don’t belong together? Yet we find in Hebrews just that. Praise and Sacrifice interwoven together.
“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)
The sacrifice of praise means that even during the difficult times we choose to believe in the goodness of God. It says that during the hard seasons we can still exalt His name. As we turn our despair, our pain into praise of the One who sacrificed it all for us it becomes the most beautiful sacrifice.
When we are in a place of hardship or trouble and yet are able to praise God, it is a sacrifice. It means that we are reacting in a way that brings something beautiful. This gate in the midst of our paradox is where He dwells. It that moment a gate is formed, a place of entrance where the King of Glory can invade our situation with His presence.
In Isaiah 60:18 it says, “But you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.” In Revelation we see too mention of the gates of praise. We learn that the gates are made of a single pearl. A pearl comes from an irritant to the oyster. It is formed when an oyster gets a grain of sand trapped in the flesh inside its shell. This piece of sand irritates the oyster and it responds by coating the grain with what becomes a pearl. What was an irritant to the oyster becomes something beautiful, valuable. God’s pairing of praise with irritation is intentional. It shows us that when we respond with praise to God during our hard times something beautiful is produced.
Praise invites the Lord’s presence into our situations. It is indeed a gate, a place of entrance for the King of Glory to enter our lives. Our praise is to be continual. It means our praise is a lifestyle that exists regardless of our feelings or our circumstances or how our day is shaping out. Our praise becomes a powerful declaration of magnifying God over our lives. It is not about being thankful for all things, but in all things being able to be thankful. It means that our praise of God is not shaken by our circumstances. We move above the restraints of human explanation to a place of trust.
Sometimes in life we are left with mysteries in God. Unanswered prayer, someone not healed, things not restored. But because God is good and kind we can trust Him with that mystery and still seek His face and worship Him. As Bill Johnson wrote sometimes victory is “measured in the fact that after disappointment and loss we set our hearts to seek His face again.”
There’s something to be said on this side of eternity being able to worship God. To worship and give Him praise and honour in a fallen world when we are hurting. This is a true sacrifice of praise. For one day we will all be in eternity worshipping – pain and grief will be no more, and we will never have the opportunity to bring Him praise through our pain.
Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.” (Psalm 5:1-3)