The Call to Praise

By Jasmine Timm

When I got married, I wore a pair of pearl earrings that my aunt bought for me. I loved them, and I have worn them nearly every day since my wedding day. They remind me not only of the covenant I made that day, but also of my aunt, whom I love very much. They’re just a pair of earrings, but they carry great sentiment for me.

My husband and I have spent most of our summer with family in the Midwest, and one night while getting ready for bed, I decided to take my earrings out. I laid them on the dresser in a place I thought safe and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, though, one was missing. We searched the room, moving dressers and flipping rugs, but found nothing. In a bizarre turn of events, we figured that a mouse had taken it, thinking it was a kernel of corn. My in-laws had been having issues with mice, and upon looking closer, we could see his tracks across the dresser, where I’d placed my earrings. I was upset, and I felt silly for being upset. They were just a pair of earrings, and yet they carried so much sentimental value. But after a few days, I realized that I would not be missing these earrings as I stood before Jesus one day, and so my disappointment quieted.

On any given day, we are faced with experiences which cause us grief. Whether that grief be as minor as losing a wedding earring, or as major as losing a loved one, we lament over our experiences because we have a sense that this is not fair. This is not what life should be like. We feel powerless and helpless, unsure that we can handle another disappointing blow. Life wasn’t meant to be overrun by viruses, or hostility, or disappointment, or death. And in the midst of such experiences, we struggle to hope. When we come to the end of the Psalms, though, we are instructed to do something that often feels so hard for us to do: sing praises. The last five psalms are dominated by the call to praise the God of the heavens. Each one begins with the phrase, “Hallelujah!” which means “praise the Lord!” We might wonder why a book that is filled with so much lament ends in such a way, or we may mindlessly embrace this call to praise without really recognizing the meaning packed into it.

Psalm 147 helps us make sense of how to praise the Lord in the midst of disappointment and pain. In the psalm, we learn a lot about what we are called to praise God for. We praise Him for His power — He is the one who counts the number of stars and names them (147:4), the one whose understanding is infinite (147:5), the one who has power to send rain and make grass grow (147:8), who is powerful enough to provide food even for baby birds (147:9). He is powerful enough to cause cities to rise and to fall (147:13-14). He has the ability to send snow, hail, and strong winds (147:15-18).

And yet, we also learn how this all-powerful God uses His power. He wields His power to help His hurting people. He gathers the exiled, He heals the broken-hearted, He bandages wounds, He helps the oppressed and judges the wicked (147:2-6). We are not called to forget our pains and force fuzzy feelings of praise, but rather as we remember that our God holds all power and loves us enough to care for us with His power, we have ample reason to praise. The God who has the ability to send rain on a cornfield in a small town in the Midwest is the same God who has the ability to attend perfectly to the needs of His hurting people. 

We praise a God who has promised to wipe away every tear, to bring us to a city where grief and crying and pain is no more (Revelation 21:3-4). Although we cry for a little while longer, the coming One will come, and when He does, our praise will be uninhibited. But in the meantime, as we look forward to our wew city through tears, we can praise. We long for something we know we will receive, so we can praise. Jesus has guaranteed His coming, and because we know our hope is certain, we can praise. 

When faced with disappointments as trivial as a lost earring or as big as impending death, we have reason to praise. God is high above it all and takes notice of it all, and He loves to use His power to serve the people who serve His Son. Whatever the circumstance, we can praise because we know that God cares for us, and He is returning to restore both His people and His world. As we remember the great hope that is in store for us who love God, small disappointments lose power over us. As we look forward to the return of our gracious King, we remember that grief, pain, and death will not have the final word. We wait with hope, and as we wait, we praise, because we know that one day soon the “God of peace will soon crush satan” under our feet (Romans 16:20). And when He comes, everything that has breath will praise His name (Psalm 150:6). May we be a people who praise Him today because we know that we will praise Him forever. 

“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…”

Revelation 19:6-7