I was thinking about praise this morning, specifically about when we give God praise. It is easy to praise Him when everything is going well, when your family is healthy, you have a job, the bills are getting paid and the kids are staying out of trouble. We can easily sing, “God is so good.”
The same is true after a problem has been resolved. After your loved one has been healed from an illness. After you have found a new job. After everything is all better.
It’s easy to praise before anything is going wrong and it’s easy to praise afterwards, but praise from the middle? That’s hard. When we have been struggling through a problem for long enough that we are worn out, but we still don’t have the end in sight, we can start to lose hope. It can feel frustrating that God is still expecting us to praise Him in those circumstances.
Maybe that is why God had the Israelites pick up the stones from the middle of the river. When the Israelites had finally made it through the wilderness, when they were finally in sight of the Promised Land, when all they had left to do was to cross a river, God asked for praise one more time from the middle. He miraculously stopped the river upstream, during flood time no less, to allow His people to once again cross a body of water on dry land. My personal inclination when faced with something difficult, is to rush through it as quickly as possible. Flood waters standing up in a wall a little ways away, I want to run across the riverbed! But God had a different idea. He instructed them to pick up rocks from the middle of the river to set up as a memorial to what He had done for them once they got to the other side, to remind them of what He had done in the difficult middle.
I find God does this in my life as well. Maybe I am not picking up literal rocks, but God does teach me a lot in the middle of hard times that He then expects me to use on the other side as a testimony of His goodness. Because that is another thing, God is always good, no matter how bad things get. He is always with us and He also never leaves us in the middle.
“Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land and they passed through the river on foot…we went through fire and through water, yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:5-6&12b.