Tuesday, January 15, 2013
How to Change the Atmosphere
When January rolls around, it seems like God gives me a key verse or an assignment to focus on for that year. This year He showed me Jeremiah 20:13 “Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors.”
When I read that verse the Lord said, “Lori I want you to praise me this year like you’ve never praised me before. Every day. When you’re tempted to mumble, grumble or complain, I want you to praise me. When the situation is not going your way, praise me. When you receive bad news, praise me. I want you to make this a year of praise and thanksgiving. If you do this, I promise to rescue you and meet your needs.”
Immediately, I was both excited and challenged. As soon as I agreed to make this my goal, I was hit with bronchitis. When I’m sick, that’s always the most difficult time for me to keep my attitude right! But, as the sickness dragged on, I realized there were plenty of things to praise God for, and each time I did, I noticed I’d laugh, smile, and feel more cheerful.
As I’ve meditated on this scripture, two other stories came to mind. First, who isn’t convicted by the story of Paul and Silas singing praise songs in prison? (Acts 16) I’ve heard that story so many times, but if you stop and think about it. . . how crazy is that?! Can you imagine how unsanitary, dark, dank, and disgusting a first century prison would have been? Not exactly a place that would have an “atmosphere of praise!” Probably more like an atmosphere of moaning, groaning, and swearing! But as Paul and Silas worshipped, God sent an angel to break open the prison doors and release the chains of every prisoner. When you praise, miracles are released! Your praise changes the atmosphere!
When I was a teenager, I read Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place. One story in the book made a huge impression on me. Corrie’s sister Betsy had a positive attitude and thankful spirit, even in the horrific surroundings of a Nazi concentration camp. This annoyed Corrie. Corrie wanted to murmur and complain along with the other women, but Betsy would always correct her and point out the positive.
One day Betsy said, “Corrie, we need to thank God for the lice.”
An abundance of ALL sorts of critters, especially lice, constantly harassed Corrie and all the other women in the barracks. After hearing this, a somewhat exasperated Corrie stated, “Betsy, You’ve gone too far this time. I’m not going to thank God for the lice.” But it wasn’t too long before Betsy’s prayer made sense. Betsy and Corrie led daily Bible studies each day, and during these forbidden meetings they led many women to the Lord. They found out later that the German soldiers avoided the barracks because of the lice.
Paul says, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thess. 5:18) Would you consider joining me as I attempt to praise God in every circumstance? Realize, we don’t have to praise God FOR the circumstance, but we need to praise God IN the circumstance. He is able to work ALL things together for good!