My biggest and most important goal for the past 40 years has been to earn salvation. If I said I was perfect during this time, I’d be lying. On the contrary, I am not perfect, but I want to be. Over my 40 year commitment, I’ve made many mistakes. I can also proclaim that since I first read Deuteronomy 28 and the curses that would overtake Israel because of their disobedience, I have tried to live on the blessings side of that chapter by learning how to serve God and getting better at it. It took me years to learn about the weapon of praise and its benefits. Neither my past life experiences nor my current situation has to control who I am nor whom I will become. My desire is to live in New Jerusalem “in that day”. I learned to trust God the hard way.
I read about other servants of God in the pages of the book who also made mistakes and who disobeyed the tenants of God. Look at David. He made mistakes and when he did he repented and changed. The mistakes David made, he only made once. He repented, cried out to God, asked for forgiveness, and transformed. He changed. Most of the pain and challenges he felt in his life was because he was being chastised for his mistakes and for his sins. I have had my share of chastisement too.
On the other hand, when I read about Job I read that the pain and challenges he felt in his life were because he was being used as a vessel to prove that it was possible to live this life and never disobey, never turn from God, and to never curse him because of pain and challenges we experience in life. I hold on to Job’s story when I feel I have done nothing to bring on a special challenge, this time.
In addition, Psalm 78 was a startling eye-opener. This chapter outlines ways the children of Israel errored and angered God. According to this scripture, God was more angered by their distrust than their actual sin. Not only did they not walk in his law, but they also limited his power. This angered him more than ever! Psalm 78 began with, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” This caught my eye and really made break it apart. Even when there appears to be no hope, I have learned that I must believe. Psalm 78:21-22 says, “Therefore the Lord heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation.” My eyes saw problems differently at that point. I knew I needed to believe, really believe deeply that God can do anything and to trust him with all my heart, soul, and might.
My 40-year service has been filled with much tumult. During the first 10 years, I cried almost every day about something. There was something always wrong. There were hungry days and sad days and days when I was beaten down and emotionally abused by someone who was supposed to build me up. I prayed every day all day for strength to deal with it. I never thought to praise God instead of crying for strength. In my mind, praise was reserved for church service. I didn’t think to focus my prayer on gratitude for those things that were right and good. In my mind, there were only a few anyway. At the same time, I had to deal with the pain and challenge of being set apart from a family whom I loved and who loved me. I wasn’t the same anymore. Like all of you, I couldn’t eat what they ate, celebrate what we used to celebrate together, and create fun things to do during those times we were off work celebrating with the rest of the world. Life was not easy for me during those days. Lord knows I thought I had plenty to cry about if nothing but feelings of severe loneliness and depression. I lived a life of love without compassion and I blamed myself for it. I was too busy expending all my energy trying to please someone else that I did not make time to thank God, praise him, keep my head in his Word, gain inner peace, and earn salvation.
As a result, I lived in secret shame, manipulation, control, possession, and distrust. During the next 10 years or so, I had learned to deeply question myself. I existed in a mindset of uncertainty and learned how not to have confidence in myself. The person who was supposed to be closest to me discussed my “faults” with others and I was talked about for what I thought was doing good. Many of these “faults” were made up, orchestrated, and created by his inadequacies. I became an outcast for what seemed to me, no reason at all. I felt like I had no protection as if my head were not covered, yet my so-called covering lived in the house with me. I felt open and vulnerable. No coupled person should experience deep feelings of loneliness. I continued to cry because of what others said about me. I had finally gained strength to deal with the pain of being beat down but now the pain of being ostracized almost overtook me. My thoughts were filled with the dis-ease of it all. We have all had something to cry about, something that caused us pain and resulted in living challenged. I used to ask the Lord, “what’s wrong with me”, as I cried. “Why am I not worthy of love?” I did not understand yet, that the problem really was me and that I was praying the wrong prayer in the wrong way. I felt as if I belonged on another planet. I thought I was loving God with all my heart, soul and might. I thought I was loving my neighbor as I loved myself. Yet I was too busy trying to change people’s minds about me that I didn’t put my focus on my God. Still, I was so alone, emotionally abused, and depressed most of the time. As bad as life was, it got worse. The next 10 years I was ostracized. People I thought were my friends turned their backs on me. I could not turn to my family because I did not want them to see my spiritual family’s sins just in case they decided to turn and serve God too someday. I was left alone to raise children that I did not have by myself. Yet, still, I cried and waddled in self-pity. I was sanctified, separated, among the sanctified. It is hard to be happy when your spirit is crushed. I still did not know about the weapon of praise.
I thought I was loving God with all my heart, soul and might. I thought I was loving my neighbor as I loved myself. Yet I was too busy trying to change people’s minds about me that I didn’t put my focus on my God. Still, I was so alone and depressed most of the time. Have you noticed yet that I said, “in my mind”, “I felt”, and “I thought”? I later learned that thought is spirit and we can fight that evil spirit with praise. As bad as life was, it got worse. The next 10 years I was ostracized. People I thought were my friends turned their backs on me. I could not turn to my family because I did not want them to see my spiritual family’s sins just in case they decided to turn and serve God too someday. I was left alone to raise children that I did not have by myself. Yet, still, I cried and waddled in self-pity. I was sanctified, separated, among the sanctified. I still did not know about the weapon of praise.
As bad as life was, it got worse. The next 10 years I was ostracized. People I thought were my friends turned their backs on me. On many occasions, I could walk up to someone on the Sabbath day, smile, and say hello. They would literally look through me with a blank stare or as if I were beneath them and say nothing in return. I could not turn to my family because I did not want them to see my spiritual family’s “sins” just in case they decided to turn and serve God too someday. I didn’t want to turn them away. I was left alone to raise children that I did not have by myself. No one could have paid me a million dollars to believe I’d be a single mother listening to her children’s father who preached the gospel. What an oxymoron? Yet, still, I cried and waddled in self-pity. I was sanctified, separated, among the sanctified. I still did not fully understand the weapon of praise.
The next 10 years, approximately, I was ostracized because I decided to get off the “yo-yo” and remove myself from the cycle of abuse. I was a young woman whose spirit was crushed, then left open and vulnerable for others to crush me as well, with no protection. My head was uncovered. People I thought were my friends turned their backs on me. I could not turn to my family because I did not want them to see my spiritual family’s sins just in case they decided to turn and serve God too someday. I was left alone to raise children that I did not have by myself. Yet, still, I cried and waddled in self-pity. I was sanctified, separated, among the sanctified. I still did not know about the weapon of praise. On a side note, if there is a separated or divorced woman with children in your midst, embrace her. Give she and her children the benefit of the doubt. A woman with children will never leave a good man.
Finally, I learned to deal with those “thoughts”. To help save my children, I had to learn to shift the focal point of my thoughts. I had to learn to not sit in the loneliness and sadness and isolation I felt. I had to learn to suck it up and hold back my tears so that my children would not turn from God. I was not only responsible for my own salvation but I was responsible for the salvation of my little people who looked to me for direction. The one direction I knew I could not steer them was away from the Word and away from God.
Consequently, during these last 10 years, I realized I was missing out on life’s moments of happiness by being depressed. I have learned the only thing I could do to keep myself and my little ones on that straight and narrow path was to learn to praise God. By accident, I learned that praise is a weapon against pain, challenge, trouble, negativity, and depression. I had to learn that thoughts are spirit and that I could not listen to the negative thoughts that kept trying to take me over and cause me to turn from God. One day, I just got tired of crying and being sad. So, it started with a song. I literally sang and song then another. I felt so much better, almost immediately. Through prayer and outward display of gratitude, sometimes all day as I took care of my responsibilities, I gained strength and learned to live in more gratitude and thankfulness. Sometimes in order to keep from crying, I made a mental list of things for which I could be thankful. I began with the breath I breathed each morning. I literally thanked God for the beautiful sunshine he allowed to rise each day. At night, I thanked him for the light of the moon that lit the sky. I thanked him for the flowers and the bugs, the animals and the plants we gave us to eat and nourish ourselves. I thanked him for the electricity, gas, and water that flowed through our home. My goal was to change those “thoughts” and cause those spirits to flee from me. I thanked him for the pretty rocks in the driveway and the weeds that yielded pretty blossoms in the vacant lot next door. I thanked him for the trees and the leaves on them. As I learned to thank God for his creation which affected our lives in a good way, I began to thank him for each shoe on my shoe shelf and each item of clothing in my closet. My goal was to thank God for 100 things before I picked the children up from school. Afterward, I watched my children and talked to them about their day. I thanked God for any good thing mentioned in our conversations. My goal was to find 100 more things to thank God for before we went to bed at night.
I already learned to keep the commandments. I showed up to class every Sabbath and feast. I kept the dietary law and the other commandments. I had to learn to trust God, really trust him. I needed to change my thinking. Then I intentionally began to hum and sing as I cooked our meals and cleaned our home. I couldn’t worry about the troubles of life. I had to put those aside. This is how I learned to praise God for those same things I thanked him for previously. My mission was to overcome the depression that lived so deeply in my heart, in my mind. By then I kept my head in the book, not to learn about prophecy and history but to learn how to pray and to learn how to turn my life around by praising God. I didn’t have the distraction of emotional abuse, just bills, and responsibilities of nurturing my children. I began reading in Genesis and read the entire bible book by book and chapter by chapter. I learned a whole lot and filled in many gaps along the way.
The purpose for my reading even changed. Next, I re-read the entire book, this time, I read the prayers of Abraham, the prayers of Moses, Miriam, Joshua, and David. I looked for prayers of servants of God throughout the book. The next time I re-read the entire book, I read about the lives and challenges of the women of the bible. I looked for the evil women and the righteous women. I read about their challenges and how they prayed and praised God during the overcoming of these challenges. I learned to pray and praise God by studying specific prayers of specific people of God for the purpose of identifying my own faults, repenting because of them, and changing these behaviors. I prayed and praised God in the car, while walking to the store, while watching the dishes, and during all parts of my daily due. Depression is a fault and to fight it, I learned to have confidence because God is an amazing God and I am his daughter. The confidence was not a personal confidence in myself but confidence because God is all powerful and as long as I could remain on that straight and narrow path of trusting him I had confidence. In
Depression is a fault, just as doubt, and to fight it, I learned to have confidence because God is an amazing God and I am his daughter. The confidence was not a personal confidence in myself but confidence because God is all powerful and as long as I could remain on that straight and narrow path of trusting him I had confidence. In 2 Chronicles 20:21, Jehoshaphat “appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.” The people went to battle with musical instruments and song. “This battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s” I can image how foolish the people looked to the enemy. I am sure they thought they were about to wipe Israel out. They did not know they were praising God, ahead of time, for the victory. And guess what, something amazing happened, The Most High, stepped in and fought in their behalf.
Joshua led the children of Israel into the battle of Jericho with the shout of praise. These are valuable lessons about overcoming challenges of life. It was then that I realized praise is a weapon. I learned to “bless the Lord” and announcing aloud to myself and my negative thoughts that my life’s challenges were going to change. “Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.” The entire chapter of Psalm 103 is a really good read to help turn those negative thoughts.
Psalm 22:3. “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” This means he sits or stands and dwells in our praise. So, I re-read the book again, this time, I looked for instruction on how to praise God. My thinking was that if God “inhabitest the praise of Israel”, then I was going to learn to praise him. It was when I learned to praise God throughout my day in gratitude for those things in this life that were good and right that my thoughts changed. As my thoughts changed, my heart changed. As my heart changed, my actions changed. As my actions changed, I became happy. When I realized I was happy, I experienced and understood joy for the first time in my life. No more do I have to fight depression. Neither my past life experiences nor my current situation has to control who I am nor whom I will become, and my desire is still to live in New Jerusalem in that day. I think the scripture, Acts 2:40 “save yourself from this untoward generation“, may apply here. I learned to stop blaming others for my happiness and focus my attention of saving myself, really. I learned to change my thought to thoughts of praise. My words of praise turned into a deeper trust in God. The more I acknowledged him and his power, the deeper I trusted in that power. In situations where all odds looked like they were against me, I praised him even more.
I feel good, I am not depressed. I learned to use the weapon of praise in my behalf. Whether or not the trouble in my life was due to chastisement or to teach me valuable life lessons, does not really matter. The result is the same, that I learn and grow. I am confident. I don’t feel alone, and I don’t feel lonely. Do you know how painful it is to be married and lonely? There is a huge difference in why my life was painful. The benefit is that I learned to praise God from the depths of my soul. Side note, something I learned on the way to learning something: Did you know that the words “hallelujah” and “Thank you Jesus” fits into any song, wether gospel or not, when you put an accent and inflections in different places?
Back to focus, I have never felt better in all my life and praising God is so natural and automatic! I am back on the straight and narrow road to salvation in my daily walk and I am loving it. My story is very common. I am not so special. There are many women who experience the same thing. They love a man that hates them, in fact, he probably hates all women. toThrough all the pain and bad experiences, I learned that not only must I keep the commandments if I love God, but I must also trust him in, of, and for all things. 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.“ This I know for sure! How do you praise God? What do you think would happen if those of us who know the Word and practice it daily would come together, at least on the Sabbath days, to let out numerous shouts of praise? What do you think would happen if, at least on the Sabbath days, we would sing praises to the Most High because we understand his power and acknowledge his greatness? What do you think would happen if, at least on the Sabbath, we would set aside time to sing praise with understanding for more than 5 minutes. After all, there are 1440 minutes in one Sabbath day. We spend about 8 hours, 480 minutes, sleeping and 2 to 2 1/2 hours or 120 to 160 minutes listening to the weekly lecture.
Praise is to say or write good things about God; to express approval of God; to express thanks to or love and respect for God. Praise is to express a favorable judgment or a commending; to glorify God especially by the attribution of perfections. How many of the 800 minutes that remain can we use to praise God for the things he has already done and those things we want him to do during the week ahead? What might happen if we could have an actual praise and worship service for at least 60 minutes or 30 minutes or 20 minutes of the remaining time?
There will still be 740 minutes left. And, those of us with nothing to praise God about, will have the option to leave if they want. Psalm 47: 6, “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.“ How many more doors may open for us? I wonder would the enemies we fight in the form of a sickness, unemployment, domestic violence, and sheer lack could be overcome if we learned to praise God with understanding on a daily basis as well as on his holy Sabbath. Psalm 47:7, “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.“ What would happen if we learned to use praise as a weapon? What would happen if we learned to “clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” Psalm 47:1. I can testify the weapon of praise changed my thinking and turned my life around. In times of challenge and trouble I use that weapon in my behalf. Instead of magnifying the problem. I magnify the Lord until the trouble has passed. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalm 22:3