"Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name" Hebrews 13:15
Some days I really don’t feel like I can praise God. Some days I really didn’t want to praise God. In fact, many days during my depression praising God seemed impossible. Wasn’t praise something I did out of a grateful and joyful heart? I didn’t FEEL grateful or joyful in anyway, in fact my mind was focused on exactly the opposite. I felt like joy was impossible and I was afraid I would never truly feel joy again. My mind seemed to only focus on the negative side of everything. It was honestly PAINFUL to try and think about the positive. It was very very hard to praise God and be thankful. But choosing to praise God and thank Him for things despite how hard it was, was exactly what I needed to do.
Sacrifice. What is a sacrifice? We don’t offer them any more in our culture. I think of slaughtering an animal like a lamb as an offering to God as described in the Old Testament of the Bible. This was the norm through most of history, but it is pretty much extinct in today’s world. Today a sacrifice is a loss or something you give up, usually for the sake of a better cause. Merriam Webster defines sacrifice as "an act of offering to a deity something precious."
For me during my dark and heavy days when I didn’t feel like doing anything, much less praising God, God showed me just how important it was for me to offer Him the sacrifice of praise. I started by reading the Psalms of David. He would start by telling God just how bad he felt, but his prayer always ended in praise to God. I could not create such a prayer on my own, so I prayed David’s prayers. I started writing in my journal prayers like David’s. Prayers that started with how bad I felt, telling God what was on my heart, the truth, the dark part of me… then my prayers would turn to praising God just like David’s. My heart would start with eyes on myself and slowly God would turn my eyes to Him, to focusing on who He was and praising Him for his character.
I believe in our depression we need to work hard to sacrifice how we feel and how we don’t feel. We need to decide to praise God anyway. That is really really hard in the midst of depression. Doing what doesn’t feel natural is hard when you’re depressed. When I was depressed coping day in and day out was hard enough. Pretending to be happy in front of people at church, at work, with my family all day long was all I could muster up the strength to do. Feeling like “pretending” with God seemed like the last thing I could do or wanted to do. But forcing myself to praise God, even if only for the shortest of prayers, was very healing. It was me choosing to do what was hard in order to tell God I loved Him even though I couldn’t feel His love. When I did so it took my eyes off of my pain for just a little while, which is healing in and of itself. It also puts my eyes on the God of the universe, the one who never changes and is greater than our earthly circumstances and it drew me closer to Him. He brings light to our darkness, He brings healing to our pain.