Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, and they were defeated . . . And the fear of God was on was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. – 2 Chronicles 20:22, 29
Recently a reader asked me to write about the Debbie Downers of the Christian world. You know them – the people who suck the life out of the room, the ones who exhaust you and whose departure invites a sigh of relief.
I can’t help but feel some empathy for such people because I can only imagine the years of hurt and disappointment that led them to that point. For instance, though we love to mock Job’s wife for telling him, “Why don’t you curse God and die?,” we often forget she had just lost all her children and everything she owned.
But God gives us an antidote for negativity: praise, even – and especially – when praise seems unlikely or futile.
King Jehoshaphat of Judah had every earthly reason to give up. His tiny kingdom faced a mighty multitude of troops that threatened to overtake and destroy it. But the fear of man did not overtake him. No, instead, the fear of the Lord delivered him.
And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to see the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. – 2 Chronicles 20:3-4
In humility, Jehoshaphat prepared his heart to seek the Lord, and he used his influence to help those around him do the same. They sought the Lord, and He promised deliverance.
“You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17a
Because they trusted the Lord and had committed their ways to Him, they could go out the next day not with trepidation but with praise. And it happened that when they began to sing and to praise, that’s when the Lord moved.
But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. – Psalm 22:3
Praise is a natural overflow of a yielded and trusting heart. But it also is a healing balm to the hurting heart. It takes our focus off the sadness and setbacks of this world, and it helps minds and hearts ascend to a higher place, the place where our Lord still sits on His throne despite whatever circumstances we face.
There is power in praise. Praise brings hope, restoration, victory, peace, strength, renewal and deliverance. Praise comes in the song that wells out of a hurting but seeking heart, the testimony of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the storm, the acknowledgement that He is greater than the sum of all that ails us.
Are you a Debbie Downer? Remind yourself who you are and whose you are. Reflect on God’s power, His nature, His faithfulness and His goodness. Avert your eyes from the apparent hopelessness of your situation, and immerse yourself in His truth. And lift up your Lord with a song of praise, even if it’s a joyful noise that only you can bear to listen to. To the ears and heart of our Lord, it’s a beautiful thing, and it just may sound the beginning of your deliverance.