This Is What the “Sacrifice of Praise” Really Means

sacrifice of praise

A few weeks after my niece passed away, I stood next to my sister in church.

The funk that settles after a death—especially an unexpected baby just starting life—is hard to get out of. I’m not sure it really ever leaves completely.

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sacrifice of praise

As the worship leader finished one song and started a new one, my shoulders tensed.

I knew the words to this song already. I knew what we were going to sing. I knew the Truth I was being asked to proclaim.

I knew it was going to hurt.

I knew it was going to be hard.

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

It’s really easy to be thankful when things are good. When the new job comes, when the relationship starts, when you’re healthy, when the sun is shining.

Blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

But when the baby dies, it’s hard. It’s infuriating, actually. There is no good reason for the death. There is no answer, no comfort, no peace. When the marriage falls apart, when the money goes away, when the addiction returns.

Every blessing You pour out,
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Sometimes we can shout praise to God. We feel it in our bones, we feel it in our veins. But other times, all we’ve got are our whispers. It hurts to be loud, there’s no energy for it. We’re worshiping from muscle memory, because we did it when we were happy. Now we do it when we’re broken, because it’s all we know. It doesn’t make sense, and it’s the only thing that makes sense.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

As we sing this song on a warm August morning, I know what’s coming. The words I don’t know if I’ll be able to say, the Promise I understand but can’t get on board with. I imagine my sister’s heart–her broken, devastated heart–and I think this is cruel. This is too much.

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the worlds all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

I know following Jesus isn’t supposed to be easy, but this might be too much for me. Healing seems impossible.

Blessed be Your name 
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I’ve stopped singing at this point. I’m afraid the words will turn to moans, the pain inside will leap out of its spot in the pit of my stomach and it will be louder than the singing, louder than the instruments, louder than the church walls can contain.

Every blessing You pour out, 
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

The morning after Chris told me he was an alcoholic, I couldn’t get out of bed. The girls were at school, he was at work, and I couldn’t make my legs move toward the floor. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t find the energy, the power. I couldn’t see out of the fog. I was ruined.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name, oh

I assume my sister will sit down. I can’t imagine her finding the strength, the resolve to stand and sing these words. It just hurts too much. I am still not singing, just listening to the voices around me. Trying to gain strength from others and failing, readying myself for the emotions I am going to feel when my sister finally collapses.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

But instead. Instead.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

She raises her hands. Instead of losing her legs, instead of sitting down in the pew which would have been acceptable and understood, she puts her tired hands in the air as high as they will go in offering and praise to the God who knew her baby wasn’t going to be well but gave it to her anyway.

God, you give and take away
Oh, you give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Tears streaming down her face, she worshiped. She worshiped a God who doesn’t always make sense to us. She worshiped a God who is there in the celebrations and who is there in the death marches. Who can handle our anger and fury. Who can handle our broken hearts.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name, oh

My sister stood broken at the foot of the Cross, a baby missing from her arms. I could get out of bed, a life I thought I had gone, burned to the ground.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

I don’t know how it happens. How you recover from the loss of a child, the betrayal of a spouse, the devastation of everything.

Blessed be Your name

But muscle memory tells me this won’t last. Muscle memory tells me, sometime again, there will be celebrations, joy, happiness.

You give and take away
God, give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I don’t have all the answers. Actually, I know less than I did ten years ago, ten months ago, and last week.

God, you give and take away
Oh, you give and take away
But my heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

My only answer right now is Jesus. I don’t know anything else. I can’t tell you what the future holds. I don’t know what my marriage will look like next month or next year. If there will be a marriage.

Oh, you give and take away
God, give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I know I’m going to be okay. I don’t know how I know this. I can’t explain why I know this. My brain fights this thought. But my heart knows. I’ve seen the redemption too many times to count. The pattern, the rising, the healing.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Hands high in surrender even though it hurts.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name

“…and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:21

IF YOU’RE UNFAMILIAR WITH THIS SONG, YOU CAN LISTEN TO IT HERE.
(JUST JOINING THIS SERIES? START HERE.)

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This article originally appeared at TrustyChucks.com.


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Mary Graham
Mary Graham is a writer, teacher, wife, and mom of two girls from Indianapolis. Writing and creating help her make sense of a world she doesn't always understand. She escapes into writing at her blog Trusty Chucks, which you should totally check out and subscribe to immediately. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.