Day 9: Praise
Editor’s Note: For Day 9 of our Advent series “The Day of Joy Drew Near,” returned missioner Anna Metzger, inspired by the lyrics of a praise and worship song, describes how she continues to praise God through changes and challenges.
Before reading the following blog, I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to the song below. As you listen, take time to reflect on the lyrics. You could sit back and read along or you could take the time to close your eyes, let the music wash over you, and simply be with Jesus. I’ll do the same before continuing to write the rest of the blog.
Definition of Hallelujah:
Hallelujah – (Verb. Exclamation.) God be praised.
Towards the end of the second verse, we hear the phrase, “I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery.”
As many of you may know, I came to Bolivia as an FMS missioner in 2020. I served two years with FMS, and then decided to stay in Bolivia on my own. It has now been 4 years and I have built a life in Bolivia. I love this country, its people, its traditions and customs. While I, myself, am happy with my life here in Cocha, the Holy Spirit started to nudge me elsewhere. Through prayer, I felt the Spirit telling me it’s time to move back home to Kentucky. I felt confused, sad and excited all at the same time… for me it was a “mystery” as to why God was calling me back to the States. I had just gotten my own apartment and purchased absolutely everything to fill my apartment. I started to build a life of my own and put roots somewhere for the first time in my life. I was confused. Yet, “in the middle of the mystery,” I still chose to “raise a hallelujah.” I found that when I praise Jesus, I feel peace. This peace transcends the confusion and mystery that I find myself in.
In this season of your life, do you find yourself in a situation that you don’t completely understand? Do you think you could still find ways to praise God amidst that confusion and mystery?
Regardless of your personal experience, we all find ourselves in the season of Advent, awaiting Christmas. Oftentimes, we focus more on the materialistic side of the holiday, and we forget to turn our hearts towards Jesus. Kids, especially, find themselves excited in the mystery of waiting to see what gifts they receive from Santa or loved ones on Christmas Day. When you encounter those more focused on the mystery of gifts, could you remind them to turn their hearts back to the “reason for the season,” and encourage them to “raise a hallelujah” to the Lord for sending us His son?
Moving on to another set of lyrics, in the chorus we hear: “I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm.”
As time continued to pass, I began to be less confused about why God was calling me back to Kentucky. While my confusion faded, my sadness and excitement only began to amplify. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that it is natural and okay to experience two opposing emotions simultaneously. When you find yourself in this position, it’s like being “in the middle of [a] storm.” In a storm, there are often strong winds. If you picture yourself literally standing outside in a storm with winds coming at you from two different directions, you will feel yourself start to sway or be pulled in those different directions. That is exactly what happens with two opposing emotions. Over the past few months, when I have felt excited, picturing my life back in KY with my family, I have leaned into that emotion and shared that joy with those around me! Yet, in other moments, when I think about leaving my loved ones here, I feel sad, and I let my friends know how much my heart hurts to have to say “see ya later” to them soon. These two emotions, these two strong winds, can throw us off balance if we don’t look for equilibrium. For me, my equilibrium is Jesus. When I cling to His love, His plan, His direction, I find steadiness in the midst of the storm. And when I find that steadiness and feel His presence, you best bet that “I’m gonna sing.” I will sing songs of praise, and thank the Lord for holding me still, while at the same time, nudging me forward towards His goodness and mercy.
Most often, we associate Christmas with feelings of joy, peace, excitement, and more! These positive emotions can point us towards the true joy of the coming of the King. However, it can also bring feelings of nostalgia, sadness, and heartbreak. Holidays are special when we are surrounded by family, but when someone in our family is missing, that hole seems to grow even bigger during the festivities. This brings the experience of simultaneous emotions, the strong winds, that pull us in different directions. If you start to feel this, remember to find equilibrium in Jesus. He will ground you, and He will bring you that everlasting joy when you draw near to the humility of His birth.
So, as you move through Advent and gather with family for Christmas celebrations, be gentle on yourself. Allow yourself to be “in the middle of the mystery” and “the storm,” yet don’t forget to sing and “raise a hallelujah” to the One who created it all.
Questions for Reflection: What “mysteries” or “storms” are you experiencing right now? How can you continue to praise God in the midst of them?