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Unconditional Praise: A Purpose in Pain
With one exception, the following represents edited excerpts from Passing Showers, a 48-page illustrated booklet first published in 1991-92 that details a number of key insights gained from my 1984-85 ordeal with Guillain-BarrÅ½ syndrome. Passing Showers was revised, updated, and reprinted earlier this year. It is now cataloged with the Library of Congress and available to interested readers without obligation (one copy per family, please); see the form enclosed with this mailing.
According to the testimony of Scripture (Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 1:5-6), the unconditional praise of men and women for their God and to their God lies at the very heart of humankind’s created purpose here on earth. To sing a song of praise to God and to ascribe to the Lord of the universe glory & honor – not just because of the good times and the blessings coming our way, but even when everything has gone terribly wrong – that seems to be at the very heart of our charter.
All of the individuals living in this world – past and present – who have heard the call and made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord seem to have been placed, in a manner of speaking, on the Big Stage of the universe, positioned front and center before all of the hosts of the cosmos. And somehow, in the great, hidden, cosmic battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, and in a way that we humans can hardly yet begin to comprehend, how we respond and how we relate to our God when things are all gone awry is a very big deal to Him.
Something immense is accomplished for the Divine cause whenever an individual who is sitting in the midst of a terrible dilemma of pain, loss, and adversity, suddenly looks up and begins to praise God anyway, unconditionally. In that moment, evil is dealt a critical blow, and the heart of God is made glad.
“It is not hard for the Lord to turn night into day. He that sends the clouds can as easily clear the skies. Let us be of good cheer. It is better farther on. Let us sing Hallelujah by anticipation.” -C. H. Spurgeon
Christian author Philip Yancey has written on this subject so eloquently. Expositing the central themes of the Bible Book of Job, Yancey in one place says that the Book and the character of Job “presents the astounding truth that our choices of faith matter not just to us
It’s almost as though God positions us in the race (Hebrew 12:1) and then places His bet on us, i.e. His confidence in us (Philippians 1:6), no doubt because He knows who, in the end, is going to win (Romans 8:37).
Our role in, and the outcome of, all of the little battles being waged here on earth in space and time are somehow, almost mysteriously, able to make a tremendously significant difference in the larger battle that is being waged in the heavenlies. And that’s why so much is at stake in how we run the race here, today.
Your faith and my perseverance, your praise and my adoration, especially in the midst of our trials, significantly promotes the cause of the Creator. The unconditional praise of a man to his God puts a tremendously strategic stroke in God’s column. And it does so before all of the vast hosts, good and evil, who dwell in the unseen realms of this universe.
Ephesians 3:7-10 essentially says that the grace of God and the power of God are made available to the people of God so that the purpose of God might be realized. And the purpose of God is that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in heavenly places.”
If you and I can draw courage from the Biblically-based perspective that our pain is only temporary, and if we can do so in such a manner as will enable us to look up and sing a song of blessing to our God even during the lonely hours of a dark terror-filled night when the suffering or the pain or the loss are very great, then, in doing that, we really serve this larger purpose of making known the manifold wisdom and goodness of God before all of the cosmic hosts.