Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Turn Your Frown Upside Down

                 I remember as a child when I was unhappy or upset, I would hear the saying, “Turn your frown upside down.” The point was to take my mind off the unhappy circumstances in my life and look to the positive. A very good lesson that all of us should learn, no matter how old we are. This morning, I found myself in Psalm 71. David has now become old in age; he would get the senior citizen discount at McDonald's at this point in his life. He has gone through a lot, wars, deceptions, constant battles and yet still he says, “In You, o Lord, I put my trust.” (vs. 1) He has not given up on God. He had come to trust God as his rock, his fortress, his refuge and most of all, his hope. As I read the Psalm, David starts listing off all his current woes. All the things that are going wrong and all the help he needs from God. Even though he is older now, his troubles are still pressing in; his enemies are still seeking to destroy him. Which gives us something to look forward to as well, no matter how old we get, troubles in this life will always find us. But David shows us how to “turn our frowns upside down,” and place all our hope in God.
                “But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” Psalm 71:14-16
                There are times, even at my age (middle-age) that I find myself complaining as David did. All the things that are not right with my life, I bring them before God in the morning, and start to list off all the things that I need help with. I sound like a broken record some mornings! Yet, in the midst of all my complaining, there is a hope of deliverance, a hope of salvation to come. For I will be delivered from the wrath to come, from the troubles of this life, and I will stand in the presence of the Lord God and I will sing forever more His praise, and that brings me some peace. But there are times when even that doesn’t seem to make me feel any better. David shows us in verses 14-16 the equipment we need to battle the woes we fall into, and how to turn our frowns upside down.
                When David wrote the word continually, he meant exactly that- continually. Matthew Henry writes “Those that love God love to be praising Him, and desire to do it all the day, not only in their morning and evening devotions, not only seven times a day, but all the day.” Paul even reiterates this continual praise we are to have of God in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I will say, rejoice.” David and Paul knew that the only way to have hope in any situation was to praise and rejoice in the Lord. No matter what was going on around them, no matter what was being done to them, they found a reason to praise God and to rejoice in Him.
                We too have so many reasons to praise God. Our world may be falling in around us, our lives may be crumbling before us, but we have hope and we always have something to praise God for. In the Old Testament, when God would work mightily in the lives of His people, they would set up altars. They would pile stones upon one another and name that place as a memorial to what God did for them. Not only to serve as a remembrance to themselves, but to those who were to pass by. All who saw these altars would know that the Lord God delivered His people, and they would praise Him right then and there. We may find ourselves in situations where we are complaining more than praising, and it does happen, but like David, we are to look back at the altars of our lives and begin to praise God for all He has done for us. We can look back over our lives and see how God has saved us, delivered us, and rescued us from all our troubles and that should bring us to a point of praise.
                The more we praise God, the closer we draw to Him. The bible tells us that our God loves to be where His people are praising Him. Paul tells us to Rejoice, because he knew that our praises draw us closer to God, and God draws close to us. The best way to turn your frown upside down is to begin praising God for all that He has done for you.
                Not only will we begin to put our focus back on God, who is our hope, our rock, our fortress and our strong tower, but through our praise of Him our fears will be silenced, our hopes will be raised, our faith will be strengthened and our complaints turned into thanksgiving. The hope that we have in Him is what grounds us, it is where our confidence comes from, and our thoughts turn from our troubles to the goodness of God and the providential care that He has for us, no matter what our troubles may be.
                “When we have said all that we can, to the glory of God’s grace, there is still more to be said; it is a subject that can never be exhausted, and therefore we should never grow weary of it.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible) We will never escape from troubles, trials and tribulations as long as we walk this earth, but we can escape from them taking hold of us. We start by praising God, and we turn our frowns upside down. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
                Draw near to God, praise Him and watch Him turn that frown upside down.