A FRIEND explained not long ago that she didn't mind the frigid February weather that we'd been having but that she dreaded the gray dampness of March and April because it often made her feel moody and depressed. ``I can never seem to dress warmly enough for that weather,'' she said jokingly. I knew she was not alone in such feelings. Still, her mention of the word dress made me think of the Biblical statement from Isaiah ``The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek...to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.''1
Wool and goose down are fine for keeping out the cold of winter and early spring. But in this ``garment of praise,'' doesn't God provide us with sure protection against any onset of heaviness or depression, regardless of the season or the weather?
Praise for God and His saving goodness is recorded throughout the Bible. There were occasions when praise followed the rescue of people from hostile armies, from drought and famine, or from illness and death. But on other occasions, Biblical characters praised God in the midst of difficulty, as when Paul and Silas ``prayed, and sang praises unto God''2 just before the prison cell was opened and their bands unloosed.
How can we praise God in moments when all we can see is gloom? Perhaps the answer to this lies in understanding more deeply the nature of God and His creation, man.
Though it may seem that we are biological beings, influenced primarily by genetics and external material forces, such is not the case. Our true being is infinitely more than it seems to be because it expresses the nature of our creator. Man as God created him is actually the complete, perfect expression of God. God is divine Spirit, as the Bible teaches, so what God creates is spiritual. Man is the spiritual offspring of Spirit. His complete being is governed by Spirit. This is unchanging reality.
We read in the book of James, ``Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.''3 The prayer that embodies praise for God helps transform our thought from gloom (which can be quite mesmeric) to the ``perfect gifts'' of God. Far from a merely superficial shift of human thought, a mental twisting of something unpleasant into something pleasant, this prayer can actually dispel discord with the truth of God's uninterrupted goodness and care.
It's more a matter of awakening to the spiritual brightness already here -- though perhaps temporarily hidden from view -- than a matter of asking God to change something we don't like. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says in the Christian Science textbook, ``God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love.''4
It is true -- no human condition or circumstance can lock us into gloom in the face of God's unchanging love. But it wouldn't be wise to think that we can continually bury ourselves in heaviness because one day we will be ``rescued'' from what we believe are the offending circumstances.
God's love is here and now, and it is always at work on our behalf, forwarding the awakening of thought to what God is and to the true status of man. As we begin to glimpse the spiritual reality of creator and creation, the picture changes. We begin to see more of the beauty and goodness of God expressed right where we are. There is healing. Praise is natural then, and a bit of praise leads to more.
Praise is an action word, and it expresses action we can all take. Whatever the weather, praise is a garment we should never forget to put on!
1Isaiah 61:1, 3. 2Acts 16:25. 3James 1:17. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 2.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Praise ye the Lord....He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.