Sacrifice is hard.
I suppose that is clear from the very definition of the word.
The idea of a sacrifice of praise seems a strange sort of concept. We tend to view praise as spontaneous, as rising from our rising and joyful emotions. How can such praise be a sacrifice?
- Easy to praise
That sort of praise is not such a sacrifice. But what about the praise that comes from a woman who has just lost her child? What about the praise from a man who does not know how he will feed his family? What about the praise from Christ-follower who lives every day in fear of torture or death because of Who he follows?
Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. (Heb. 13.5)
The praise of the one ravaged by cancer, the praise of the one dying inside from loneliness, the praise of the one who isn’t even sure that God is really there…these are a sacrifice. These are that sacrifice of praise.
- Steph – Suffered years of illnesses and still chose to try to praise God
- Kristina – died of cancer, leaving her husband and baby behind, yet still sought God while alive.
But how? How is it even possible to praise God while living through such circumstances?
Look back just one chapter.
…looking to Jesus…who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Heb. 12. 2-3)
How? By looking to Jesus. By looking to the One who was able to offer up His own sacrifice of praise while enduring the physical pain of the cross, while enduring the emotional shame of the cross, while enduring the heartbreaking separation from His own Father.
- Jesus – crucified, humiliated, abandoned, yet still offered praise to God
By keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, and therefore off of ourselves, we are given courage and strength to do what we think is impossible. We are kept from growing weary and fainthearted.
By fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we are able to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise. An offering of praise that endures all time and all circumstance. An offering of praise that is beautiful to God.
Art credits: Sunlight through tulips photograph by Kirk Sewell Photography; photograph of Jesus carrying the cross sculpture by Asta Rastauskiene