Hallelujah! Praise God in his holy house of worship, praise him under the open skies; Praise him for his acts of power, praise him for his magnificent greatness; Praise with a blast on the trumpet, praise by strumming soft strings; Praise him with castanets and dance, praise him with banjo and flute; Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum, praise him with fiddles and mandolin. Let every living, breathing creature praise God! Hallelujah! [Psalm 150 (MSG)]

water lilyI’d gotten sidetracked taking pictures of the water lilies at the Botanic Gardens. I looked around for my husband and saw him sitting quietly on a nearby bench. Although his head was down, I knew he wasn’t snoozing. Sitting down beside him, I said, “He really is amazing, isn’t He?” We both spent a few minutes reflecting on how great our God is and thanking Him for using all 120 of the crayons in his heavenly box when he made the flowers. He’s an extraordinary artist!

Thanks and praise—we tend to lump them both together and, yet, they’re not really the same. Thanks are for gifts given; praise is for the giver of the gifts! For example, we thanked our children for the on-line cooking class that came with a box of all the necessary exotic ingredients shipped to our front door but praised them for finding such a unique, fun, and delicious present! A friend thanked me for writing this blog but it was her praise for my writing that put a smile on my face.

While it’s easy to thank God for his many gifts, I question, “Who am I to praise God for His splendor and works?” Perhaps it’s because I feel so insignificant and inept in comparison to our great and magnificent God. I tend to think we should have competency in an area for our praise to be of value. For example, while I would feel comfortable thanking virtuoso pianist Lang Lang for giving a concert, no matter how amazing I thought his performance, my lack of musical expertise would keep me from praising his interpretation of the piece or the amazing way he recovered from a career-threatening injury. While I take nature photographs, I can’t hold a candle to the work of a photographer like Thomas Mangelsen. While I could thank him for sharing his work, because I know nothing of f-stops, apertures, ISO, or shutter speeds, I question whether praise from someone who is an amateur like me would mean anything to him.

If I feel unqualified to praise mere humans, no wonder I’m hesitant to praise God. Yet, when I think about it, praise is praise, whether it comes from an expert or simply an appreciative fan. We don’t need to be accomplished in a field to know what we find inspiring, beautiful, remarkable, or impressive and something tells me that sincere praise is always music to someone’s ears.

My small brain can’t fathom the 4,500 stars I might see tonight let alone the 300 billion in the Milky Way and the estimated 70 billion trillion stars God scattered in the universe. I have enough trouble understanding the way bees make honey let alone how God managed to think up some 950,000 other kinds of insects. Try as I will, I can’t truly grasp how a cherry blossom becomes a juicy sweet cherry or how the 86 billion nerve cells in my brain make it possible for me to breathe, walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time. I have no idea how God managed to think up giggles, rainbows, bird songs, dolphins, water lilies, butterflies, peonies, strawberries, giraffes, snow, or sunsets. Nevertheless, I realize it’s not necessary to be an expert in astronomy, entomology, biology, zoology, botany, or any other science to appreciate and praise the work of our magnificent God. Our praise is music to His godly ears and surely will put a smile on His divine face.

On this day of Thanksgiving, let’s be sure to add a little praise to our thanks. Well done, God; well done!

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. [Romans 11:33-36 (MSG)]

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