From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.
In the past 24 hours I’ve traveled from Chicago to Seattle and back, flying into sunsets both ways. Coming home this evening, this scripture came to mind. However, I remembered it in the King James Version: “From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same…” When I opened my New International Version, I got one of those surprises that catch you off-guard when you read familiar text in a more accurate, contemporary translation.
I always thought this verse admonished us to praise God all the time—from sunrise to sunset. But it doesn’t say that. It’s not a matter of when (even though an attitude of constant praise is a wonderful goal). It’s a matter of where. In other words, it calls for universal praise, recognizing if people everywhere took a moment or two to acknowledge and adore their Creator, His praise would indeed be perpetual.
More to It
There’s more to it than geography. We should offer praise regardless of where we are in our lives. If we think about it, our spiritual and emotional locations routinely inhibit our proclivity for praise. Obviously, in wastelands of despair—places a friend calls “the backside of the desert”—we’re hard-pressed to praise. If we stumbled into these dry patches on our own, we’re prone to question God. Worse still, if we got there by closely following Him, we may slip into resentment.
But is it any easier to praise God as we bask in the sunshine of success and feast on the fruits of our labor? I’m not so sure. I’ve found that when I hit an unusually smooth and productive stretch, I sometimes neglect my praise responsibilities. I even get confused about how I got there, which tempts me to congratulate myself!
Although praise and gratitude are closely related, they’re not the same. We praise God for Who He is; we thank Him for what He’s done. This makes praise a discipline, a habit we practice independently of thanksgiving. Our mindset, situation, and outlook have no bearing on our passion for praise. Once we grasp this, praise becomes an exquisitely liberating activity. It expresses faith in the face of facts, good or bad.
Better than that, though, praise anchors God’s presence in our circumstances. Psalm 22.3 says our praise is His throne. It activates His governance and power. Whether or not you find anything at all to be grateful about, you can still praise God right where you are. Once you make room for Him through praise, gratitude is sure to follow.
Wherever we are in life--from the most spectacular places to the most desolate--praise is a responsibility we can never neglect.