When I lived in community we had a time of praise and worship with intercessions twice a week. Generally, I loved it. I grew a lot in my relationship with the Holy Spirit and really appreciated time to praise and intercede for the world. However, there were some days that I just didn’t feel like praising. When things weren’t going well or I was missing home or I was just over tired, I would rather just sit and pray a rosary than participate in praising the Lord.
There was a particular time when I was living in community when it got incredibly difficult for me to participate. The week my Great Uncle passed away unexpectedly. I was not in a good place. I was super upset about the loss and I was frustrated because I couldn’t be with my family to support them and grieve myself. I remember walking into praise that week not wanting to give anything. But in those moments I remembered conversations I had with sisters about what they do when they aren’t ‘feeling it’. That’s when the phrase sacrifice of praise was introduced to me.
I’d heard of the phrase before, but I never really understood what that meant or how it could be used as a prayer. When we choose to praise God when we don’t feel like it or when we’re in a difficult spot we are choosing to say, God you are good even if I don’t understand what you are doing. In making that choice, that sacrifice, to praise even when it hurts, we recognize that we aren’t God, that we don’t have control. It’s not an easy choice to make.
The week my Great Uncle passed away and I chose to try to enter into praise, it hurt. I fought with myself the entire time and to be honest one of the two days that week I mostly just stood there trying not to cry, but I was there, I was present to the Lord in my hurting. And the next time I tried to enter into praise I was able to praise just a little more. And the Lord used that. He used that sacrifice I was choosing to make to pour out His love and comfort into my heart and also into the hearts of my family, whom I was offering the sacrifice up for at the time.
When we offer praise even though it hurts, we are allowing the Lord into our pain and suffering. We are choosing to offer the sacrifice that it is, just like we offer other sacrifices that we make as prayers. The grace that comes with offering a sacrifice of praise is that when we choose to be grateful even in the tough stuff we are able to see the Lord for who He is, our Good and Gracious, Loving and Merciful Father. The Lord is able to transform our hearts when we choose Him in our pain. When we make a sacrifice of praise we are drawn into the Sacred Heart of Jesus where He wants us to make our home.
The Lord reminded me of all of this today through the psalm, “To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.” (116:17) It was a perfectly timed reminder (when are His reminders not perfectly timed?). My family has been going through a lot this week with my grandparents health and it’s been a challenge to see the good in the situations or why it’s all happening at once. However, I had an opportunity yesterday to enter into some praise on my own and I experienced the power, once again, of a sacrifice of praise. It is incredible how the Lord is able to transform my heart in those moments of praise offered to Him. I’ve been able to see Him working in the little ways and in the big, one of which is the fact that I’m home and able to be with my family as we struggle through all of this. By offering up a sacrifice of praise, I have been once again reminded that God is good and He walks with us each an every day. His will and His plan is perfect, even if we don’t understand it all.