Tucked within the folds of the last chapter of Hebrews is a thorny, but powerful verse. “Through Jesus,” the writer imparts, “let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-—the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV). It is thorny because it pricks us to surrender, and it is powerful because, when accomplished, greater faith is the product.
Praise comes easily when we have reached the top of the mountain. It is a different when the valley holds us captive. However, the command is still very clear. We are to praise God in the valley. How you respond in the valley speaks volumes about your relationship with the Lord. You don’t have to be a Christian giant in order to praise God when you’re in pain. Just your willingness to surrender speaks your heart’s condition. If you really read this verse you will discover that the actual way to achieve its instruction is revealed within the treasure of its wording.
Let’s look at what we are actually instructed to do. Offer God a sacrifice of praise. Your praise is to be an offering. An offering is a gift. It is not just offered as something that is expected, but as something that is given out of love. If you truly have experienced the redeeming love of Jesus Christ, you love Him deeply, and long to return His love. A sacrifice of praise carries you forward from your initial salvation experience and teaches the sanctifying selfless love of Christ. “We also rejoice in our sufferings,” Paul writes in Romans, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV). We are instructed to offer a sacrifice of praise because we have the ability to grow spiritually from our suffering. From our growth, we learn hope. This is the kind of hope that fuels our faith.
We are also told in Hebrews that this sacrifice of praise shall be spoken. Praise cannot rest silently within our hearts. Unless it is spoken, it has no power to change us. When declared, praise shall truly be the fruit of our lips that confess His name. In Psalm 22, King David writes of his fear. “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me” (Psalm 22:14, NIV). Later in the same chapter, David writes of the power discovered in voicing praise to God. “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You, who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows” (Psalm 22:22-25, NIV).
Within Psalm 22:25 we are able to understand how David achieved his sacrifice of praise. His praise came from the Lord, and from a personal commitment to fulfill his vow. This statement reveals the way in which the command of Hebrews 13:15 may be attained. The Lord has His part, and we have ours. The Lord has faithfully rendered His part through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. Our ability to praise the Lord in times of suffering is the Lord’s gift to us. Our part is to render the gift back to Him, and that can only come from a personal commitment to fulfill our vow. It was only through God that David could offer praise, and it is only through Jesus that we are also able to speak of God’s faithfulness. When praise is spoken, greater faith becomes our reality. When we praise God continually in the midst of pain or discouragement or loneliness or failure or sadness, we are changed by the power He imparts through a sacrifice of praise.
Do you praise God in the valley? If not, the direction in Hebrews 13:15 is obvious. All it takes is your recognition of His gift to you, and a willing heart to offer a sacrifice of praise. Faith is your reward, and your promise of things not seen.
© 2018 Lynn Lacher