“By Him, therefore [Jesus, the one who suffered outside the camp], let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, even the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name. . . . For with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
One time in church we were singing the song Blessed Be Your Name, which tends to make me cry. A young friend later said, “That’s really hard to say. It’s hard to say ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ when everything is dark and hard.”
You’d better believe it. How easy it is for me to say, “Lord, I praise You,” when it’s a gorgeous day and I’m feeling energetic and my husband loves me and my children are bright and beautiful and I have lots of friends, and . . . .
But what about when the darkness closes in? What about when I’m sobbing into my pillow because my child has walked away from the Savior? What about when I’m prostrate on the bathroom floor because my husband is abusive? When I hear the doctor’s voice speaking from underwater telling me I have cancer? When I’ve just found out that my fellow missionary and friend has been martyred?
Then, when I lift up my hands to God and declare with my mouth the truth that my heart proclaims, “Lord, I praise You!” I’m manifesting that He is worthy, worthy, worthy. He is not just a giant Santa in the sky or a slot machine with random paybacks. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Then, when I cry out with my lips, “Lord, I exalt Your Name!” my heart is implicitly crying, “I trust You. I trust You.” I don’t understand what You’re doing, but I know You’re good, and I know You’re in control. I trust You.
Is that a sacrifice? You’d better believe it. Don’t ever let anybody tell you there are no more sacrifices in the New Testament. It goes deep.
But it’s possible. And beyond possible. It can come, inexplicably, from a deep well of joy, because of the most Worthy of all Sacrifices. Jesus Christ, the one who suffered, the one who understands my suffering, who not only understands exactly what it’s like to walk through a dark valley, but actually walks through it with me and lifts me up in the midst of it.
By Him, by Him, offer the sacrifice of praise. That’s the kind of perspective, that’s the kind of faith, that’s abundantly pleasing to God.