Many years ago a famous song evangelist was traveling with some missionaries through Africa. His assignment was to lead the praise-worship time before the missionary brought the sermon.
The trip had been long. Heat and sickness had bothered the little team of itinerant travelers. The food was always of unfamiliar local flavors versus an American diet. Many nights they slept on cots or the ground. It had been a long time since he’d seen his family. He just wanted to go home.
But there were many days left in this evangelistic tour before that would happen.
Now it was time for yet another evening service. Doing his utmost to put on a happy face he led the singing as best he could. Near the end of the singing he felt led to open up the selections to requests from the “congregation.” One little African woman, weighing no more than 100 pounds, her face deformed from leprosy, raised a twisted and curled hand. The song leader wondered if she understood what he was asking or if he would understand what she would say through leprous lips. Would she only ask for a handout?
Then out came her request, too clear for his comfort. She asked if they all could sing “Count Your Many Blessings, See What God Has Done.”
He could not lead it. He was so broken by his complaining spirit and her crooked smile; his meager gratitude compared to hers. Such were the stark contrasts between he, who had so much, and she who had so little.
How about you?
It may only help us temporarily to compare ourselves with others who have it worse, but this man’s story serves as a convicting and challenging tale.
Maybe that’s why the psalm-writer invited everyone to regularly enter the gates of the Lord with a “ticket” of thanksgiving and a “sacrifice” of praise (Psalm 27:6; 50:14, 23; 100:1-5; 107:22; 116:17). If praising God, in spite of whatever is going on in our lives were easy, it wouldn’t be called a “sacrifice.”
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
Author: Rick Sams
Rick Sams has served Alliance Friends Church (Ohio) as pastor for 31 years. He publishes weekly articles and blogs for his local newspaper and on the web.