In the November 2012 issue of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine, there’s a story that has stuck in the back of my mind ever since I read it.
There’s more to the story, but the part that stuck out was how the one boy praised God. Every time a train whistle blew (about every 30 minutes), he’d shout out, “Thank You, God, for __!”
“Ok, what’s that about?” I ask. “Every time a train comes through, you thank God for something.”Jonathan Friesen, “Thankfulness Training” (underlining added)
For once, Poole’s eyes dim. “Dad–my real dad–used to say we should be thankful all the time. The trains roll by just about all the time, so that’s when I thank God.”
I stare at him. “So you shout 40 times a day?”
“Strange way of prayin, but it works for me.” Poole looks into my eyes. “How about you, Martin? When’s the last time you were thankful for anything?”
“You’d understand if you met my family,” I say.
“Who do you think you’re talking to?” Poole says. “The Windsors took me in ’cause I had nowhere else to go. But a weird family doesn’t keep the sun from shining or God from loving you. You have so much to be grateful for, and you can’t even see it.”
Let’s just sit with those last two sentences for a bit, shall we?
Your family, your surroundings, your situation, your background, whatever–it doesn’t stop the faithfulness of God. Doesn’t keep Him from loving and blessing you. We have so much to be grateful for. . . and all too often, we don’t even see it.
Maybe we’re too busy. Maybe we’re too focused on other things. Maybe we don’t take the time to think about and realize the blessings we’ve been given. Maybe we’ve decided that we’re not going to enjoy this and so our eyes and hearts are blinded to the blessings, at least in the moment (click here to read about my experience with that).
But the blessings are there. The reasons to praise God are there.
*sits and ponders for a bit*
Okay, moving on from that deer trail.
I find it interesting that he shouted out praises.
One of the forms of rejoice in Biblical Hebrew is defined as “to shout (usually for joy).”
Poole rejoiced. Consistently, no matter who was around, no matter what others thought, no matter how “silly” the things he said thanks for were. It wasn’t just in his mind or under his breath or even saying it normally–he yelled it out.
The Bible commands us to rejoice. Depending on the Hebrew or Greek word used, that can mean different things (as we’ll look at in another post), but one of them is to shout. We are commanded to shout out praises.
How. awkward. I mean, just randomly shouting out, perhaps at regular intervals, “Thank You, God!”? And, like, around other people?
But it’s not about us or how we feel, is it now. And it’s not about what other people think of us. It’s about God, who He is, what He’s done–He deserves every bit of praise we can give plus more!
In the story, Poole faithfully shouted out praises, and eventually Martin began to do it too. What if our shouting out praises, our thankfulness, our continual worship, would influence others to do the same?
What if our exuberant, unashamed, faithful adoration is what it takes to encourage someone else to join in: because we shout out “Thank You!” someone else feels free to say “Hallelujah,” or because we stand to our feet, throw our heads back, and lift our hands, someone else plucks up the courage to close their eyes and hold out open hands?
What if our lives and the lives of those around us would change if we were thankful more often? If we openly, boldly praised God?
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth:Psalm 98:4 (KJV)
make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.