Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6).
Bwana asifiwe!” is Swahili for Praise the Lord! As I traveled from the dry place of Tala to the slums of Kawangare to the densely populated and dangerous ghetto of Korogocho in Kenya, this is the way every believer greeted me.
Living under the constant pitch of despondency, Bwana asifiwe? Surrounded by the dark shadows of squalor, poverty, and destitution, Bwana asifiwe? Living in the ubiquitous presence of systemic evil and limited options to escape it, Bwana asifiwe? I wondered, how could they praise God in such uninspiring and unfavorable conditions?
I received my answer while sitting in a worship service at Redeemed Gospel Church in Korogocho. In their worshipful dancing, exuberant singing, and sacrificial giving, these brothers and sisters reminded me that many times praising the Lord must happen from a place of obedience—not circumstance.
In Scripture, God’s people are commanded to offer Him praise. All people to whom God gave breath were to use it to praise Him (Psalm 150:6). Obedience to this command to praise the Lord was a recognition that God, despite circumstances and conditions, was worthy of His people’s praise (Deuteronomy 10:21) and that He would not share His glory and praise with another (Isaiah 42:8).
Obedience to the command to praise God was an act of declaring His nature, praising His goodness (Psalm 135:3), ascribing to Him greatness (Psalm 104:1), telling of His righteousness (Psalm 98:8-9), singing of His faithfulness (Psalm 89:1), and giving thanks for His strength (Psalm 59:16) and salvation (Psalm 18:46, 95:1).
God alone deserves our praise. We praise Him from a place of obedience and recognition of His goodness. When we trust that God is good and He works positively for good even in unfavorable circumstances, we too—from a place of obedience—can say, “Bwana asifiwe!”
Read Acts 16:16-34 and see how two believers praised the Lord in unfavorable circumstances.
When have you praised God out of obedience and not due to circumstances? Spend a few minutes praising the Lord right now.