HOW do you feel about winter? I know I once dreaded winter! We had moved from a sunny, warm area to one where cold, short days came as quite a shock. I still remember how I associated gloom with what I now enjoy. What changed?
Well, I did. One day, as I was driving, I looked out on the snowy hills and crisp blue sky and thought, "Praise God for His goodness! Later, when I looked in the Bible, I saw that the original verse, in Psalms, reads, "Praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Suddenly, that snowy landscape that had previously seemed only dreary and cold to me, looked alive with detail and beauty. More important, I caught a new glimpse of the promise of the work I was doing at that time. It seemed, too, to come sparklingly alive! As I continued to praise God in the weeks following, I stopped feeling gloomy in the winter.
I've always felt warmed by the Bible's praise of God. Often, this praise is praise for the fact that God is God. It is praise for His goodness, His love, and His perfection, which never change. It seems as if Biblical writers literally sang out praise to this God.
Such praise played a part in what Mary Baker Eddy learned of God and His creation as she discovered and founded Christian Science. She saw why praise is always due God. God is infinite, eternal Spirit who creates His offspring--man, our genuine identity--spiritual and complete. That is, His work is perfect and complete as He does it.
Praise is a recognition of this fact, not an attempt to have God add more to or improve upon what He has already done. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy says, "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.
Of course, if we are buried in gloominess, we can easily fail to perceive what God is doing. We'll be more likely to pity ourselves than praise our creator. But it is at such moments, more than all others, that we can truly sing praises to God and look in our own lives for the evidence of His presence and activity.
This looking for--and finding--God's presence throws spiritual light on our own being. Since God, man's creator, is infinite Spirit, man is never separated from Spirit. This means, of course, that the great goodness the Bible refers to in what God does can be felt in every aspect of our own lives.
Our lives may look dark, yet God's love redeems what we might have given up as hopeless. Often, the first step we make toward accepting this redeeming power in our lives is our own praise of God. Praise opens our eyes. And once we see God's greatness and love, we may well be moved to make changes in the way we are thinking and living. Such redemptive changes often demand real effort. But God's love for us--for each one as His own special offspring--gives regenerating power to praise.
As we read in Isaiah, "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Praise for God is a practice that can bring us joy. More than this, it can be a springboard to healing in our own lives. Praise is never a function of the season or the weather, but only of our love for all that God is.
Praise to God for the perfection of His creation opens up the corners and cracks in our lives to the light of God's love. It can be our song in every season.