Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Gift of Presence

The choir and trumpets made one voice of praise and thanks to God...singing and playing praise to God: Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever! Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God-Then....the Glory of God!-that filled The Temple of God.

~2 Chronicles 5:13 The MSG

There is a song I recall from years past. I remember the first time I heard this song. It drove to the heart of how lonely people feel: Even in a crowded street I felt alone. With the pain of just existing I had no where to belong (Brush Arbor). Indeed, this is how I had often felt growing up. In fact, this is how loneliness feels-surrounded yet lonely. 

Research supports that for many people in marriages, relationships, and successful careers, loneliness is often their constant companion. Feeling lonely and being alone are not the same. Loneliness is a common emotion experienced by mankind. Its causes are often complex and unknown. For some people, loneliness is triggered by loss such as a death or divorce. For others, loneliness can be triggered by the experience of depression. What ever the cause, loneliness impacts our mental, spiritual, and emotional health. 

The above verse from Chronicles provides insight into one way loneliness can abate-praise and thanksgiving. When we praise God and give thanks to Him in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), we begin to focus on the eternal hope we have been promised through Christ. Praise fills the empty spaces of our heart that loneliness occupies. It reminds us that the joy of the Lord is [our] strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We are reminded that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3). 

Want to experience the presence of God and fill your soul with His presence? Give the sacrifice of praise and receive the gift of His presence. 

Ways to praise and be thankful:

1. Write a note to someone thanking them for their presence and influence in your life.
2. Everyday, write down 5 things you are thankful for. This does not require you to feel thankful, just to write thanks. Feelings follow actions. 
3. Before you get our of bed each morning, speak these words aloud-This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). 
4. Throughout your day, speak words of thanks to at least three people. 
5. Before you fall asleep at night, speak a prayer of thanks to God for the many ways He provided for you during the day. 

Whatever you chose to do, make sure that praise and thanksgiving is part of your daily ritual. This is the gift of presence in the midst of feeling lonely. 

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