Blessed are you, O Lord . . . , praiseworthy and exalted above all forever

It makes sense to cry out to God for help when we’re struggling.   But the Scriptures also show us people praising God when they’re in dire straits.   In today’s first reading (Daniel 3:52), for instance, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have been thrown into a white-hot furnace because they refuse to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gods.   But instead of panicking and crying out in fear, they walk about in the flames, “singing to God and blessing the Lord” (Daniel 3:24).

Two things happen as the three men in the fiery furnace praise God.   First, they are supernaturally protected—the flames don’t harm them.   Second, they realize that they are not alone:   there is a fourth man in the furnace with them, who “looks like a son of God” (Daniel 3:92).

We all face challenges in life;   we all feel at times that we are in a white-hot furnace of our own.   Our first reaction is usually to cry out to God to save us.   There’s nothing wrong with that—God wants us to call on him in our need.   But what if we decided to take a deep breath and offer him praise as well?

Like the “fourth man” appearing in the furnace, the act of praising God in some mysterious way makes him more present to us.   We know that he might not always protect us from harm in miraculous ways as he did for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.   We know that he might not take away the challenges we face.   But we become more aware that he is with us, and we become more confident that he will never leave us or forsake us.

Something else happens as we step out in faith and decide to praise God:   we go from focusing on our problems to focusing on him.   That stirs up our hope and confidence in God.   We understand in a deeper way that we have a great and mighty God who will love us, not just in our present troubles, but into eternity.

What’s the number one challenge you are facing right now?   Today, visualize placing it on an altar and lifting your arms and hands in worship.   Then use today’s responsorial psalm to praise the Lord.   Even if your situation doesn’t change, your heart will.

Word Among Us