“Keep your eyes on Jesus . . .” (Hebrews 12:2 The Message)
All around the sanctuary, hands were being lifted as the song proclaimed the goodness and majesty of the Lord. Usually, my hand is one of the first to raise, but today, I’m just not feeling it. The past several months have been difficult for my family. The stress we are under is draining my energy and my joy is just about gone. I want to feel the swell in my heart and the lift in my spirit, but my hand hangs by my side. I listen to the music, watch the faces lift to the heavens, the hands swaying in the air and I wonder, “What do I do when I don’t feel like praising the Lord?” As if he heard the question in my head, the worship leader softly spoke into the microphone, “Just focus on Jesus.”
What excellent advice. So I did. I paid attention to the words of the songs we were singing, songs that spoke of His love and His sacrifice. Songs that reminded me of my helpless state before He rescued me, and of the hope and glory that is mine now in Christ. My heart began to open is I focused more on Jesus, who left the glory and perfection of heaven for me. I considered this One who paid the debt for every sin I ever committed and who shed His holy blood to cover my unrighteousness. I joined in singing about the glory that awaits because of all that Jesus has done for me. My mind was now engaged in praise, my worries—at least for the moment—slipped away and my hand lifted into the air.
Oh how can I not praise this One who died for me? How can I withhold my heart from exalting my wonderful Savior? How can I let the worries of life crowd out the honor and majesty of the King of the Universe who gave Himself for me? I cannot. I must not. He is too precious. He is too wonderful. He is too worthy.
What struggle of mine is greater than His struggle on the cross for me? What burden do I bear is heavier than the weight of my sin on His holy being? What trouble in my life can diminish His majesty? What need do I have that He has not promised to meet? He has given me His own peace and joy. He has given me His righteousness. He has given me an eternal home – His home. He has broken my chains and set me free – what momentary trouble in this life compares?
So I will focus on Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.” I will “Consider him who endured . . . so that I will not grow weary and loose heart” (Hebrews 2,3) I will remember what God has done and I will “put my hope in God, and I will praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). And I will “lift my heart and my hands to God in heaven” (Lamentations 3:41).
Holy Father, when I focus my mind on my troubles and my heart is weighed down with burdens it is hard to find reasons to praise You. But when my focus moves to the cross and to all that Jesus has done for me, praise takes over my mind and heart and sets me free. Lord, help me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and my mouth filled with praise. Amen.