Thankfulness and Praise
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. — Psalm 100:4
Every time I go to the dentist, I see a Precious Moments picture of a little girl with her head bandaged from her chin to the top of her head and she has a single tear in her eye. It says “Praise the Lord anyhow.”
Every time I watch award shows, especially “country” music awards, there are artists thanking God like crazy. “First of all, I’d like to thank God…” you might hear several times.
What is the difference in thankfulness and praise? You may know already. You may have just figured it out from my two little examples. Then again, you may be like me…I was in my 30’s before I figured out that there was a difference. A BIG difference!
Anybody can be thankful. Most people can even be thankful to God. We thank God for all of the things that benefit us. It is very easy for me to thank Him for my family, my job, my home, my vehicles, my health…all of those things benefit me. When things are going my way, thankfulness is a piece of cake.
On the other hand, praise is hard. Praise is similar to thankfulness, but praise can only be given when life is difficult. If you have a painful toothache with a bandage on your head and a tear in your eye…God is still worthy of praise.
Take the time to read Genesis 29:31-35. It says that the Lord saw that a woman named Leah was not loved. Of course she wasn’t. Her dad had to trick Jacob into marrying her. She knew that her husband was really in love with her sister. Her whole life she had been the girl with the “hot” sister. Her whole life she watched her sister receive all of the attention while she was overlooked repeatedly. God saw this and apparently didn’t like it. So he opened Leah’s womb and closed the womb of her sister. Leah, for a while, was the only one who could make babies for her husband. Therefore, she did what many young girls and many women do today, she gave herself repeatedly to a man trying to win his affection.
As you read the names of the children, the names indicate that Leah is caught up in this desperate attempt to fill a need that only God can fill. She literally gives her children names that mean things like “the Lord has seen my misery”, and “my husband will become attached to me now.” So far, she has spent at least 3 years carrying heavy loads in an attempt to win her husband who only has eyes for her sister. That is, until she has her fourth child. She names him Judah. Judah means “praise.” Leah says “now, I will praise the Lord.“ When this child is named, there is no desperate mention that maybe her husband will now love her. Something has happened. She has become content in the Lord. No longer is she willing to carry those loads simply to please a man. Despite the fact that she is hurting, despite the fact that her circumstances haven’t changed, despite the fact that things aren’t going her way, Leah realizes that she has a God in Heaven who loves her. She does the only thing any of us can do when nothing seems to be going right in our lives…
Praise the Lord anyhow.
Today, if I have the best day ever…I will give Him thanks.
Today, if nothing goes my way…I will give Him praise.