How do you feel about the word “sacrifice?” I confess it’s not my favorite. In Hebrews 13:15, sacrifice is paired with praise and thanksgiving. And for me, praise usually connotates something hopeful and heart-warming. Sacrifice does not.
I’ve seen this verse used quite a bit this time of year as one of the standard Thanksgiving verses. But what does it mean to offer a “sacrifice of praise?” This is unfamiliar terminology in today’s vernacular. I think of sacrifice as giving something at a significant cost to myself: usually, something I do for someone else or a financial or material relinquishment.
Seemingly, there is not much of a cost to praise. I praised my kids for a job well done on the courts or in the classroom. I feel the bubble of encouragement when thanked or praised by a friend or family member. Easy to give, easy to receive.
In this same vein, I find it easy to thank and praise God for the good stuff: for His protection, provision, and blessings. No sacrifice there.
Yet there are times when God seems to have looked the other way, ignoring my pain and problems and allowing my heart and body to hurt. When I’ve lost loved ones, been betrayed, or watched my children drowning in misery, it seems He’s forgotten me. Praise is not effortless in these times. It’s a struggle.
Here we are in November; ‘tis the season for gratitude, right? However, not a day passes that I don’t hear a story of tragedy or immense challenge in the lives of friends and their loved ones. Additionally, this is a heavy time here on earth as our attention drifts to the heart-wrenching news in the Middle East. We also see grim reports from other parts of the world, in our country, and locally.
And, of course, there’s the price of eggs (and gas and food and…)! Continue Reading