||I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord Now in the presence of all His people, In the courts of the Lord's house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. PRAISE THE LORD! Psalm 119:17-19
I have come to understand this verse in a whole new way since burying Caleb on November 5th. It was my deepest desire to be back in church, to be surrounded by God's people, to worship him. Nothing, however, prepared me for the profound effect that the worship time would have on me.
If I have learned nothing else through this pregnancy and this physical loss of a child it is the grace of God. I have seen this first hand and have been changed by it. I can testify of His goodness - because it is real to me, tangible, I lived it and experienced it - I saw it in the physical and in the spiritual. I can with a clear conscience say I am not angry with God and I don't even question his will in all this. That being said, the pain is still sharp and real, and in this world I can't understand His will. I can not see what He is working in my life - my prayer is that my life is more beautiful because of Him in it, that I have lived and continue to live in such a way as to reflect the God I have come to know more intimately and personally through this trial - That I give him glory and honor which are due him.
However, when the praise music begins and I begin to pray and to sing something happens. As I sing about God's goodness, I praise Him for all that He truly is - as I stand face to face with those realities in the courts of the God most high something happens. All that pain, all that loss, all that ache comes rushing back. My breath catches in my throat, my heart feels squeezed, my eyes fill up and I struggle to keep composure. I struggle with the desire to run up to the alter and lay down weeping before a God that means so much to me that He has given so much that I simply do not deserve.
My praise has become a sacrifice - it hurts, it costs me my comfort - it is no longer all feel-good, fluff. For the first time in my life, I think, I fully realize the impact of grace, the beautifully tragic gift that was laid out for someone who is totally unworthy and will never be worthy. My pain, my loss, my dreams, those things I prayed for that will not be in this earth - all that falls away and I am overwhelmed, consumed.
A sacrifice of praise is the choice in the midst of your pain, suffering, turmoil, heartache, brokenness to come into the House of the Lord and offer up what you know to be true (praise of who He is, thankfulness for what He has done and what He is) even when it sometimes feels so distant.
The sacrifice is costly - it means to do it when you don't feel like it, when it would be easier to stay out of the courts of praise because the pain is so sharp and your throat closes up, your eyes overflow, and you feel again that intense breaking of your heart, your shattered dreams and aching soul.
This choice causes you to look directly on Christ - in all His glory and sacrifice - causes your heart to acknowledge the grace of God that is being lavishly poured out upon you. In the midst of this praise God brings you close to him and begins to comfort and heal you. He gathers you in His arms, wipes away the tears, and whispers his love: "My daughter, you are precious. This pain will come to pass, and in it will be something more beautiful. My heart aches with you, for you, but remember I am able to deliver you...I've loved you since before time began, known you by name and numbered your days and set your path - I can see the end..."
Through the sacrifice we are made more beautiful and we see the spiritual made manifest in this physical world. We are consumed by His love, grace, and mercy - and we are forever changed by the encounter.
I know this time of praise may be hard for a long time to come. The physical world takes time to heal. I am so thankful, for being able to enter the gates of thanksgiving, to come into the Courts of God most High and to lift praises - even if they come from a broken wounded heart that simply doesn't understand.