Our God inhabits praise.
The problem with subjectivity is that everything can be justified, and truth isn’t absolute. Seemingly, there are more than two sides to a coin, and what is right is based on how something is defined, and typically, the one who can define their version vocally has the upper hand.
Somehow, the same is true inversely with the benefits of subjectivity; there are more than two sides of a coin. The problem is when we can fail to seek what is truly the truth of the matter. An even worse consequence is if we fail to conclude the matter with anything other than praise.
Being a wife of only five years and a mother of four years, I still feel I’m a novice to many of life’s experiences compared to successful veterans. When faced with personal difficulty in life’s matter, even in my familial relationships, I’m posed with a choice at the end of each day, “am I acting in praise?” The challenge is triggered by an aching conscience that demands an honest answer that cannot be denied, and despite my subjectivity, it demands the objective truth from me. At the core of my justifications, I’m brought to humility and asked “am I praising the Lord?” When the question is answered no, I ultimately swallow my pride and even find myself asking forgiveness from my four year old.
When answering the question, yes, when you can honestly face the brashness of life’s pointing arrows or even subtle scorn and still say yes to living in praise, then nothing has the power to crush you because our Lord inhabits the praise of His people. Never have I read of Biblical promises that our lives are spared by hurt, pain, nor trials, but the Bible is saturated with stories of people who have been delivered through praise.
One example is found in Acts 16:19-34 when Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail for commanding a demon to leave a slave girl who profited schemers. Though persecuted by misinformed city officials, although doing God’s work, Paul and Silas audibly prayed and sang hymns while imprisoned (v.25). I doubt Paul’s singing prowess was the proponent factor for their release and cause for the "massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations" (v.26). Chains literally fell because despite being bound, their faith in God’s deliverance manifested in their act of praise. Why would they be praying and praising had they not believed God is bigger than their circumstance? The importance is that they did not run away in fear, cower in intimidation, or react in annoyed vengeance. They chose to praise God.
Paul and Silas’ obedience to act in praise continued even after they chose not to encourage the jailer’s suicide. He drew his sword in fear that their release would result in horrific consequence. Instead, Paul intervened to help his oppressor rather than destroy him. Typically, human nature has the propensity to act to the latter. But acting in a way that praises God, I believe, though the more difficult road travelled, leads to victory and freedom. In the case of Paul and Silas, their merciful act resulted in that jailer’s salvation, with the added bonus of the salvation of his entire family. "Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God" (v.33).
The story doesn’t even conclude with Paul and Silas’ deliverance and the jailer’s salvation; more truth is revealed because they chose to praise the Lord instead of react abrasively. Ultimately, the city officials learned of the misinformation given to them. And having been falsely accused, they were even asked for forgiveness (v.39).
We all go through struggles and we all have our own stories, our own versions, but how we deal with the circumstances, we’re asked to make a choice to either act in praise or submit to reacting outside of praise. At the end of the day, we’re all addressed by our aching conscience, demanding an honest answer on how we’re handling that given circumstance. "Am I praising the Lord?" How we answer it is between us and God. But there is assurance that we cannot go wrong giving praise and living praise, for our God inhabits praise. And imagine it, in our praise, God can cause the earth to shake.
"I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."