Last week I went to the beach. For an Arizona-dweller like myself, the California coast was a sweet escape from the heat of Phoenix and a great chance to actually leave my house for once this summer.
I love the beach. Absolutely love it. I love the salty waves, and the seaweed that wraps around your ankles, and the way all the sand sticks to your feet when you go inside and you find it on all your stuff for weeks. Sigh. It's the best.
One morning while walking along the surf I got to thinking about my spiritual life. I had been feeling far from God for a long time. Like a REALLY long time. My struggles with anxiety had kept me preoccupied with complaining and feeling sorry for myself. I think that self-pity is a huge distraction from God that many people fall into. It's easy to spend time feeling like a victim. It's harder to take your eyes off of yourself and look to God.
Looking at the waves, I was reminded of that Hillsong United song "So Will I." Lyric controversy aside, I couldn't stop thinking about the line that reads: "If the oceans roar Your greatness, so will I."
The ocean is ever-changing and being filled with more and more pollution as we speak. Despite this, it is still beautiful and with every wave, it proclaims the greatness of God.
If a body of water can praise God in the midst of all the damaging environmental factors and it's inability to stay the same for even a second, then why can't I?
I spend so much time thinking about myself and feeling like I'm too messed up to praise God when the ocean is out there roaring His greatness with its very being. The same God that made that ocean, made me too.
I can praise God. Even when my life won't stand still. Even when I feel bogged down by anxiety and struggles. I can praise God by how I live my life. My troubles do not make me worthless, and they don't make my praise any less important.
Everything in creation was created for the purpose of praising God. He didn't create us so we could wallow in self-pity, He created us to praise Him.
Each wave that washed up on the shore that day was God's will. None of the waves in our life are a mere accident either. Even the troubles, God is using to proclaim His goodness.
This is not to say He dismisses our pain. He doesn't. He loves us, and He knows that the world isn't perfect. We are going to struggle and we are going to have pain. It might not make sense why, but that's why we have to trust Him. After all, He created the whole ocean.
Our ability to praise God in the midst of the storm and the temptation to feel bad about ourselves is what sets us apart and points others to God. In a world where selfishness, and even self-pity, seems to be promoted our job is to praise God and lean on Him to get us through.