Journeying to the Promised Land, the Jews encounter many challenges. In the wilderness of Shur, they find no water. At Marah, the water is bitter. In the Desert of Sin, they find no food. (See Exodus 15:22-24; 16:1-3.)
In all these situations, God’s people murmur and complain. How quickly they forget the misery of their bondage in Egypt! How soon they lose the sense of joy they felt when God delivered them from their enemies!
As it was for those ancient people, it is easy for us to resort to complaining when things don’t turn out well for us. But in today’s scripture we see that the psalmist makes a commitment to praise the Lord, to sing praises to God, throughout life, no matter the circumstances, And we can learn to do the same.
God wants us to offer praise both when we see God’s victory and before we see it, when we are still in the midst of our trials.
God was pleased when King Jehoshaphat and his people praised God for answering them. (See 2 Chronicles 20.) In fact, when they began to praise God, God ambushed their enemies which resulted in these enemies turning on one another and finishing off themselves. In Acts, we see Paul and Silas who—after being beaten and thrown into the jail, their bodies aching and their feet fastened in stocks—“were praying and singing hymns to God, and prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). And while they were praying and singing hymns, the foundations of the prison shook, the doors were opened, and all of the prisoners’ chains fell off. Furthermore, this miraculous occurrence led the jailer and all of his household to become believers.
We all face times when things are going the wrong way for us. When we do, let us embrace the “new” but old wisdom of praising God in every circumstance.
Lord, I know that you are pleased when I praise you. Help me to commit to praising you at all times and in all situations. Amen.
Ruth and Psalm 146 share a thematic connection. Ruth is a foreigner who decides to follow the God of the Israelites, and the psalmist praises God for being the trustworthy God who cares about the poor, the oppressed, and the foreigner. In Ruth, Boaz will demonstrate this kind of care for her. The New Testament readings focus on sacrifice. Hebrews teaches us that Christ was both the greatest high priest and the eternal sacrifice. A scribe in Mark receives praise from Jesus, for he understands that the sacrificial system is less weighty than the act of loving one’s neighbor. Ruth and this scribe are examples of those, named and anonymous, who have come before us in the faith.
Read Ruth 1:1-18. When have you left the familiar behind to set out into the unknown? Where did you experience God’s presence and help in that situation?
Read Psalm 146. When have you witnessed God at work in the world in a way that gave you hope about an otherwise seemingly hopeless situation?
Read Hebrews 9:11-14. How does the redemption offered in Christ’s death free you to worship the living God? What form does your worship take?
Read Mark 12:28-34. What does it mean to you to love your neighbor as you love yourself? How do you act on that commandment in your everyday life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.