This is something I have rarely ever shared with anybody. I became a born again Christian in 1989 when I was 36 years old. And for much of my Christian life I have experienced excruciating ongoing physical pain from a variety of health issues. My life experience tells me that most people don’t experience a fraction of what I have endured. And yet, some have endured even more. For the most part, the only time I have ever talked about this is when it has been so painful and debilitating that it is just impossible to hide it. I am very good at hiding it. And I hate self-pity. Over the years I have occasionally asked for prayer but I decided long ago that I did not want to burden others endlessly with concern over this. Especially my children. This has been my choice and I still believe it has been the right one for me.
My salvation experience was truly an amazing encounter with God. But about 6 months later I had another life changing encounter with God. I was sitting in my living room reading a booklet about sacrificial praise that was exhorting the reader to praise God even in the worst of times. In agreement with the principles in this pamphlet I decided that I should raise up both my arms and praise the Lord. I had seen others do this but I had not yet taken that step. I hesitated for a couple of minutes because I was afraid that the neighbors might see me standing in my well lit living room with both of my arms outstretched in this way and wonder what in the world I was doing.
Finally, I overcame my fear and with an almost angry determination I raised my arms to praise the Lord while saying things like, “Thank you, Jesus.” I totally did not FEEL like doing this. I just knew it was right and pushed myself to do it. I immediately experienced a profound presence of the Holy Spirit while poetic-like words of prophecy began pouring into my mind. I made my way to the kitchen and sat down with a tablet and pen and began to write – amazed at the things I was writing. It definitely wasn’t me coming up with these things. This was the beginning of that particular anointing for me.
As I have reflected on this over the years, I have concluded that God’s lesson to me through this encounter was that a sacrifice of praise, especially when you REALLY don’t feel like it, is just about the most appropriate thing that a Christian can do in the face of any and all adversity in this life. Praising God in the midst of life’s hardships testifies to the integrity of our commitment to him. Doing so from our heart reveals that our service to Him transcends the pains and inconveniences of our life. It is the spiritual meter that measures the depth of our convictions and declares to the world that our God is worth it.
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.