I’m sure you must know who this guy is. This is actually Disney’s interpretation of Eeyore from A. A. Milne’s famous book, Winnie-the-Pooh. They’ve cleaned him up a bit, changed his coloring and actually have him smiling. The image on the right, however, is more like how Ernest Howard Shepard actually depicted him in the original book. According to Mr. Shepard, he was supposed to be an old, gloomy, grey donkey.
Eeyore was always my favorite character from the story. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve always found myself rooting for the underdogs and maybe I just felt Eeyore needed to be loved. Though in real life, if I’m honest, I tend to avoid people who are forever gloomy, down, constantly complaining and can never find anything in their lives to be thankful for. From all my observations, these types of people don’t tend to be super popular, so I imagine I’m not the only person who prefers to be around people who are for the most part upbeat, positive and grateful for everyone and everything! I’ve also recently discovered that God feels the same way!
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “God inhabits the praise of His people.” It comes from Psalm 22:3; “And thou art holy, thou that dwells amid the praises of Israel.” I looked up the word, “thanks” and found over 100 references in the Bible! Way too many to include here, so I picked a few of my favorites to share.
Psalms 100:4; “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” This is how we are to come into His presence.
I’d like to show you an incredible example of God inhabiting the praises of His people here in 2 Chronicles. This is when Solomon and the Israelite nation have completed building the temple, and they are dedicating it to God:
2 Chronicles 5:13-14; “ The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; His love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.”
And again just two chapters later, at the end of Solomon’s prayer and dedication:
2 Chron 7:1-3; “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; His love endures forever.”
Imagine the priest not being able to enter or do the work required of them because God’s presence filled the temple. Do you need to see God at work in your life, especially over a particular situation? I’m beginning to learn that when we want God to be in the midst of our lives or especially a particular situation the best way is NOT to grumble and complain and feel sorry for yourself (Phil 2:14; Jude 1:16). The best way is to start praising Him and giving thanks in the midst of it!! The New Testament is also full of Scriptures encouraging us to give thanks:
Ephesians 5:15; “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul was one who could speak from experience! Acts 16 speaks of a time when Paul and Silas had caused a spirit to leave a slave girl, but once her owners realized that the spirit was gone and she would no longer be able to make any money predicting the future, they decided to drag Paul and Silas off to the magistrates of that day. While on the way, the crowd joined the men in beating Paul and Silas, and then again, once before the magistrates, they were ordered to be stripped, severely beaten and flogged and thrown into prison.
To be honest, it would have taken a whole lot less for me to begin to cry out to God that I hadn’t bargained on this kind of treatment when I agreed to dedicate my life to serving Him. I think I would have given Him an earful of my whining at that moment, yet notice how Paul decided to spend their night of captivity:
Acts 16:24-26; “When he received these orders, he put them [Paul & Silas] in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”
What are you dealing with today? What appears to be out of your control, yet impacts your life everyday? How about finances, loss of a job or salary, chronic illness, wayward or disobedient child? Are there relationships in your life that cause you to lose sleep? Family members, co-workers, neighbors? How have you handled it thus far and how has that been working for you?
There has been something in my life that I have no control over, and for over a year I’ve prayed and whined and have repeatedly asked God to change things more to my liking, until finally the Lord reminded me of these truths. Since, I’ve been praising God that He is so much bigger than the situation and finding the things I can give thanks for, and so far, the situation hasn’t change, but my attitude and my ability to deal with it absolutely has! No more losing sleep. My whole outlook has changed! My heart is light as though it no longer matters, and life as a whole is so much better. I can praise Him and sense His presence much more clearly these days. I love where I’m at, whether He changes things or not. It no longer seems to make a difference on my countenance.
Paul’s final exhortation to the Philippians are ringing true in my life : “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will [mount] guard [over] your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I want to encourage you, to start praising God and giving thanks for ALL things, and you too will be amazed by the peace that will mount guard over your heart so that though your circumstances don’t change your outlook will.
‘Til next time, sue