Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. (NLT)
It seems a little absurd and unreal to hear that we ought to praise God constantly. Do we praise God when a treasured child dies? Or when war between nations breaks out? Or when a marriage fractures?
Yes and no! When we praise God, we are affirming his goodness and faithfulness, we are telling him we believe he has those qualities. We put him in his proper place. When terrible things happen, we do not praise God for the terrible things. That would involve delusional mind games. Rather we praise God for his goodness and faithfulness even as we confront our own terrible things.
Praise is never to become a sort of denial, whereby we put on a happy face and suppress our tears. We can praise God with tears streaming down our faces because we grasp the fact that God is sustaining us in our changing circumstances. Praise is not some induced happiness, a mere emotion.
We praise God not because our situation is good but because he is good. We may puzzle over why a good God allows bad things to happen, but we are urged to praise God so as to remind us of a greater reality beyond the fearful reality we are facing. Praise is never to be an escape from reality but a recognition of an ultimate reality.