Written by: Dcs. Heidi Goehmann God is worthy of praise, worthy of thanksgiving. This is the time of year we are reminded daily that there is so much to praise Him for, and whether you are in a joyous season or in a dark valley, there is room to praise Him. Know that it may not look and feel like the same praise. In fact, it may not “feel” like anything at all. It may be forced and rote. It may be exuberant and uninhibited, but that’s the beauty of God’s promises…He doesn’t slap legalistic expectations on us. He leaves it open to relationship and growth and He sees just as much worth in the praise that falls as tears from our eyes, as He does the praise of song on our lips. Maybe you are in the joy place. You’ll have no problem finding Bible verses about praising the Lord. He is so worthy! The Word is filled with trumpets, and dancing, and the rocks crying out. Psalm 98 speaks perfect Truth: Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. But maybe that’s not your place. Maybe the road is Psalm 23 dark in the valley of the shadow. You know Truth. You stand on Truth. This is not a problem. But your praise has left you. The Christian radio station can talk a good talk about praising Him in the storm with hands lifted high, but sometimes we need an Aaron to raise them, because they feel like rocks today. I found stored away in the Psalms a precious verse that reminds us that praise may look a lot different than we ever imagined. This was a hard lesson for me, only learned on a dark and painful road. Dreams blown up in smoke, illness tearing at the children, and everything I thought was solid in my life melting away. I wept in church. I wept quiet tears in my bed at night. I wept until the well ran dry and then I wept some more. In Adult Bible Study one Sunday morning this verse came up. Let’s back up a few pages to Psalm 56:1-8 – “Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me: all day long an attacker oppresses me; my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? All day long they injure my causes, all their thoughts are against me for evil. They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps, as they have waited for my life. For their crime will they escape? In wrath cast down the peoples, O God! You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” My tears, He collects each and every one in His bottle. At first, when I heard this verse, I was angry. Why does God want my tears? Why? What kind of morbid God collects my tears and hoards them. Why doesn’t He step in instead? Do something useful!?! Obviously, God’s plans are much greater than man can even behold. At that moment, I didn’t care, but what God slowly revealed to my heart tenderly, in His Word, was that He collects my tears and holds them sacred, because they are just as much praise to Him as my joy and laughter. They honor Him because they seek Him. Tears are so often private or at the very least, very, very personal. They are a thing between you and God in those dark moments. They bind us to people who are willing to cry with us, but when the pain cuts deep, our tears bring us before a Creator who is present, who collects them and stores them in His Book of Life, because they are beautiful and worth keeping. So, whatever your praise place today. Cry out to Him! Praise Him with your voice, praise Him with pen on paper, praise Him in your conversation, and praise Him with those tears.