"I never lost my hope
I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith
But most of all, I never lost my praise"
These are lyrics to a song we sing from time to time during our worship service. The advantage of having a flexible mindset about theology is that passages in scripture, song lyrics, etc. can be interpreted in different ways with layers of meaning. Recently, when I heard the lyrics to this song, I was reminded of a verse of scripture in the book of Genesis where God is speaking to Judah, telling him that his "hand will be on the neck of his enemies" (Gen. 49:8). Judah means "praise." That started me thinking...instead of the literal interpretation of this, what other, higher, level of meaning could it have?
What exactly does praise do for us? How does it help us? I believe that when we freely offer thanksgiving and praise for all of the good in our lives, that very act indeed puts our hands on the neck of our enemies, but not in the traditional sense. In my mind's eye, I saw our praise as a way of choking out the enemy that is our negative thinking, our misperceptions about God, our small mindedness about religion.
When we let go and surrender to the power of love - the source of all that is good that we know as God - then we gain the ability to walk through even the most troubling of situations without losing our hope, our joy, our faith...and most of all...our praise.