Every Sunday, organ music boomed throughout the sanctuary and adults around me sang. Choir members wore gold robes and serious looks while they added their voices to the congregation. At five, praise made no sense to me. In church, people sang the doxology (whatever that was) while wearing good clothes. (The ones I wore itched.) I wasn’t really sure what ‘pavilioned in splendor’ meant or what ‘girded with praise’ had to do with life.
For me, life meant I had to do with a series of chores. Finding my shoes in time for school made me worry. Writing my name— especially the ‘y’—created anxiety. Learning to add and subtract created the worst crisis I could imagine. Praise didn’t fit in anywhere. Yet I went to church and tried to sing those songs every week.
As I grew older, I recall looking forward to finding out what my internal organs did. For some reason, I thought they did wonderful things for the world. When I learned that my stomach, intestines and liver only kept me alive, I got upset. And then I sensed the routine of life could become a rut. Chores never stayed completed, and life presented obstacles to accomplish what you had to do. You woke, dressed, had breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then repeated it all the next day. Life offered no inherent meaning. (I didn’t know Philosopher John Paul Sartre already said that years before my birth.)
Then, one day it clicked. “Man shall not live by bread alone…” doesn’t mean we need to eat vegetables. It means we need God. The rest of the verse said “But by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” These words lead us to transcendence—something bigger than life. We have to live for something. That something is our Creator, the one who calls himself ‘existence’ or Jahweh.
In light of my discovery, praise has great value. I can forget daily frustrations while lifting my voice in praise of the one who holds all things together, forgives my sins,and gives me eternal life.
“You make me glad by your deeds, O LORD (Jahweh)
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O LORD (Jahweh)
How profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:4 – 5