Beautiful things are all around us, and I am usually one of those people who walks around noticing that and smiling inwardly to myself or painting about it or writing in blogs about it. This is all well and good and tends to enrich my life, but most of the beauty around us is fragile and transient. And there is a whole lot of pain and ugliness also present in our world. Remembering a beautiful sunrise or the first daisy of the year, perfectly white against grass just new green, is not going to lift my soul when I sit in a dark room or when I listen to the troubles of a friend. The colors of that sunrise have long vanished and the daisy probably got stepped on or wilted when it snowed.
In times like these, I find that my prayers, though they may be desperate pleas, inevitably turn to praise. The psalms declaring who God is weave their way ever more strongly into my prayers until I find myself not just calling out to God, but praising that God because of who he is.
While my rejoicing in good things around me may have helped train me to do this, praising God is ever so much different than just loving good things alone. For God does not change. He is not far away. He is faithfully merciful in the midst of our unfaithfulness. He embraced death because he loves us that much. He is risen!
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you...
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God...
...you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.