From Prison to Praise

Last Monday, in my weekly prayer update, I wrote, “This morning, I read an email telling me that information I had shared in strict confidence had been communicated to others, causing incalculable, and perhaps irreparable, damage to several important relationships. Because of Romans 8:28, however, I decided to thank God for even this, although I can’t see anything ‘good’ in it.”

Though very upset, I was responding well.

On Tuesday, however, when I received another message that revealed that the seriousness of the damage far exceeded what I had originally thought, I broke down and cried. For more than twenty minutes, I wandered around the house aimlessly, sobbing and pouring out my grief to God.

Then, I realized that I had written notes on the last paragraph of Romans 8 that morning, in which I stated that we should “Give thanks to God and praise him at all times and for everything (see Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).” As I have said before, praise has always been a weak point for me, so I realized that this was a challenge to obey God and to “practice” what I had “preached.”

I began trying to sing a setting of Psalm 34 written by a friend. At first I could only say – “croak“ might be a better term – the words, “I will bless the LORD at all times,” but I forced myself to press on. By the third time through the song, I was singing, and on the fourth attempt, my voice rang out boldly and with conviction.

This was a spiritual breakthrough for me, for it was the first time I had been able to move “from prison to praise,” as the title of a once-popular book by Merlin R. Carothers describes the process.

Now I can see at least one “good” in what happened: God used it to show me the power of singing praises out loud to him in the midst of profound sorrow and distress.