Why I Praise
From Psalm 48
I ran nine miles yesterday.
That statement, significant to me, means little to you without offering a bit of context—without telling you about the boating accident my cousin and I were involved in nine years ago this summer and that, because of that accident, we now have titanium rods in our femurs and screws in our hips and knees and that, at the same time I broke my leg, I also broke my foot, pelvis, rib, and ankle. I’ve now developed arthritis in that ankle and, when it rains, running on it feels like landing on glass.
I’m not saying that to complain. I’m saying that for context.
Because now that you know, it makes more sense why I’d celebrate a statement like “I ran nine miles yesterday.” That’s actually the longest distance I’ve run since my accident and longer than I ever expected to be able to run again.
It’s only been in the last several months, actually, that I’ve been strong enough to consider distance running again, and while there continue to be hurdles—and always will be—I’m finding dreams awaken in me that I’d long ago let die. Dreams of running a half marathon one day. Dreams of running (I’m cringing a little) a full marathon one day. Both are new possibilities, born as recently as yesterday, when I ran those nine miles.
“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 48:1)
Here’s another statement that, significant to someone, means little to us without context. I mean, it’s awesome to see the psalmist praising the Lord. It’s awesome to see someone else—maybe in conversation, on Instagram, in a blog post—praise Him today, but it’s hard to connect the dots until we know why. Why clap our hands (see Psalm 47)? Why sing songs of joy? Who is the Lord, and what has He done?
Insert your God story here.
What have you been through that He’s pulled you out of? What tragedies have you experienced that He’s rescued you from? What dreams has He awakened? What are you doing, believing, experiencing today that yesterday you thought was impossible?
Later in this psalm, we read, “Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever“ (Psalm 48:12-14).
It takes a little time. It takes some thought and effort. You have to be willing to “walk about“ your past and “consider well“ some areas you’d rather forget. But your stories, your memories, your suffering will help others understand. It will give them context for the reasons you trust Him, an explanation for your loyalty and praise.
Best of all, it will give them hope. Hope that, maybe their lives can change for the better too. Maybe they can find their way out too. Maybe they can run nine miles.
And when they do, they’ll know who to praise.
Next week’s reading: Psalm 50–56.