《窗前撿書讀─Power In Praise》

文: Christina To (Group 10)

“I thank God for my handicaps for through them I have found myself, my work and my God.” – Helen Keller

I was deeply drawn by this quote when I turned the first page of a book. I wondered how Helen Keller, who had lost her eyesight, hearing, “voice” and yet, could still feel such strong love from God. We can easily thank and praise God in good times but in bad times, we normally complain or ask for God’s mercy to fulfil our wishes. It is with this question in mind that I started to read this book, “Power in Praise” by Merlin R. Carothers, some 30 years ago.

The teachings of this book has been rooted in my heart through the past decades but it did not resurrect until recently when I was again dragged into the valley of pain when I saw the different obstacles and hurdles that my son had struggled through on his road to recovery from a traumatic brain injury. It’s true that God had performed a great miracle to save his life from the verge of death but ever since he woke up, his life has been turned upside down and has become completely different. My faith started to waver and my heart was restless. A little voice inside urged me to read the book again. Reading through the book again, I was able to draw my power, the power to sustain the pain, the seemingly “hopelessness” and I started to practise thanking and praising God for everything, good or bad, believing that He loves me, He has a plan for me and I just have to simply trust Him. The more I practised praising God, the more peaceful and joyful I became and at the end, what seemed to be bad was actually not so bad.

In “Power in Praise”, Carothers, a chaplain in the U.S. army preached the message of how our life can be changed when we set our mind in praising God on everything, big or small, good or bad. When we are truly thankful to God for whatever happens to us, we will then spontaneously praise Him. He stresses that when we praise God, we are letting God work his plan on us and he almost guarantees it will, at the end, change our life for joy and peace. This preaching shocked people when they brought to Carothers their sorrow, pain and mishaps because it just sounded ridiculous. Yet, they were willing to pray and give thanks and praise to God for their predicaments and soon after, they found their lives were changed. They felt peace and some of them even experienced unexpected rewarding results. Here the author reminded us not to praise God while secretly looking for the expected result, as this would not work. The absolute law of praise is “based on a total and joyful acceptance of the present as part of God’s loving, perfect will for us. Praise is not based on what we think or hope will happen in the future”.

God loved Abraham not because he was a good man but because Abraham believed in God and in His love. Faith and feelings are different and most of the time feeling is our stumbling block to put our trust in God. God gives us free will and He allows bad things to happen. Yet, He has a perfect plan for us. The trails we are going through are part of His plan, but if we turn over to Him and trust that He will guide us through and be thankful of the situation, our tension and stress will be relieved and that is when we have the peace of heart. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So we should not fear about any unpleasant situation but be thankful that God is there for us and praise Him for his greatness.

If we believe God is almighty and that nothing happens without His knowledge or outside His will, why can’t we praise God for every circumstance of apparent evil around us? Shouldn’t we trust that every difficult situation, every tragedy will be changed by the hand of God? Though it may not be what we expect, we must trust that it will be good in the end. As the author pointed out, “the difference is not in the situation, but in the viewpoint, and consequently in the outcome.” Praise is an acceptance of what God has brought into our life, believing He knows what is best for us. Therefore, praise is faith in action.

In life, we grumble a lot, but did you know grumbling is the very opposite of loving acceptance? When we grumble, we are actually accusing God of what is happening to us. The Israelites grumbled and disbelieved Yahweh, and their punishment was that none of them will see their Promised Land. In John 16:9, Jesus said, “They are wrong about sin, because they do not believe in me.” So let us learn to accept God’s will, stay positive and stay away from complaint and resentment. As we all know, God’s timing doesn’t always coincide with ours, so we must be patient and have faith in God.

Carothers illustrated uncountable examples of how people’s lives were changed when they decided to praise God in every seemingly negative happening. They felt the joy when trusting that God will work his plan on them and with the change of attitude and perspective, they were able to face any adversity both bravely and positively. It is so encouraging to read this book which is filled with positive energy. I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did. You can find this book in the CCMEA library.