The Lord never ceases to amaze me. Last week, a particular verse was on my heart, as our family has been dealing with some difficult situations. As I prepared to post todays blog, I discovered that the same verse was the theme in our church’s devotional. Coincidence? I think not. But God? I think yes. Because I believe that’s the kind of God He is. He wants to be found. He desires to be with us and to help in our time of need. And He is strong, even when we are not.
“To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)
“The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”. I have often read this verse and think it can apply to many scenarios. Even without experiencing stress or problems, life itself can bring a certain heaviness along with it. We pile too much on our plate and then find ourselves miserable and spiritually sick. Or we become too caught up with activities and put prayer and time in the Word of God on the back burner. No matter what we are facing, a heart (and mouth) full of praise can be our greatest weapon. We may not be in control of a lot, but we are responsible for our words and thoughts. And one affects the other.
One of the highlights of this verse is the word garment. Also known as an article of clothing, it’s a necessity of daily life. It’s a covering we can choose to put on or remove. Praise gives us spiritual protection and shifts our focus onto our Heavenly Father. And when it feels like the hardest thing to do, it’s probably the most necessary. So instead of giving into our emotions or circumstances, we can boldly lift up the name of Jesus in the face of the enemy. Praise is an outward sign of an inward belief. Because God is always good and always deserves our praise.
So, what will you choose to put on today? Will you “dress” for the season and head out the door prepared? Or will you arrive at your destination, only to find yourself under-dressed? In my opinion, it’s always better to wear too much. You can’t out praise God. Now this doesn’t mean the situation resolves immediately or we suddenly feel like shouting, but we can change the atmosphere around us. With enough practice and persistence, our thoughts are transformed and we begin to believe what we’re speaking. Our praise can push back the heaviness and allows the Lord to move on our behalf. There’s beauty when we surrender. And there is power in our praise.