The Power to Praise GodNovember 1, 2022 - 12:00 am
“My tongue will proclaim your righteousness,
your praises all day long” — Psalm 35:28
In honour of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, an 18th century Hasidic master from Ukraine, used to say, “If you believe that you have the power to destroy, believe also that you have the power to fix.”
The underlying principle is that whatever we can accomplish for the bad can be turned into good. If we can break it, we can also fix it. If we can hurt, we can also heal. If we can make a mess out of our lives, we can also clean it up. For everything negative we can do, we can also do something positive.
I read about a man who was always unhappy and sad. In fact, he even said that when he reflected on his life, he could remember more sad days than happy ones. It seemed as if his whole life had been one long string of unfortunate events. Eager to turn his life around, he sought out the advice of his rabbi. The wise man suggested that instead of focusing on the bad things in his life, he should instead focus on the positive things. The rabbi instructed the man to give nothing but praise God all day long.
The man liked the idea, but thought that it was unrealistic. He thought that reciting praises all day might get too boring or too repetitive. The rabbi countered, “But you have no problem complaining all day long. You don’t get too tired of that. If you have the power to complain all the time, you can also use the same power to give thanks all the time.”
The man took the rabbi’s advice. At first he tried being thankful all day, just for one day. That day turned out to be a turning point in the man’s life. His emotional and spiritual state of mind was completely different. This was the beginning of a major perspective change which had a monumental impact on his entire life. The more praise he gave, the better his life felt. Nothing had changed on the outside, but everything was different on the inside — and that made all the difference in the world.
In Psalm 35, King David ended with this: “My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.” And so should we! If we have the ability to complain all day long, then we can also master the art of giving gratitude to God all day long. It takes just as much time and effort, but the results are so very different.
Try it for just one day — only speak praises to God. Your life may never be the same again.
Your turn: What is your heart grateful for today? Share in the comments section below!