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The Secret to Inner Health and How You Can Have It

The city had to remove some of our grass while working on a flood management project. They recently came to replace the dirt patches they left behind with some sod. The conditions have not been the best for it to thrive. There is a large patch that’s doing pretty well but the small, hodgepodge patches at the edge of our lot are not doing so well. A man came by earlier this week to water it. I happened to be nearby. We both looked at the small patches of sad, grey sod. Then he called out to me, “I think it will come back.” He saw something there. Based on his experience, he had learned not to lose hope.

I think there is something in us that can help us keep going, even under difficult conditions. There are things we can do to bring renewal and inner health. When you are healthy inside it helps you live with a sense of peace and security and inner strength: you are hardy. Surely inner health can lead to other good things as well and over time, I think it fosters something else - a sense of hope.

In Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis shares that he struggled with something that comes up in the psalms over and over - the command to praise God. He found it off putting and offensive that God would demand to be praised. How could a good God ask you to tell him how great he was? Lewis shares that he thought of praising God as complementing God or letting God know that you approve of him. But then he goes on to say that over time he began to see things in a new way. What if praising God is a way to admire God, in a way similar to admiring a great painting. What if praising God is about appreciating God? We praise things all the time. We praise those we love. We praise our favorite author or team or restaurant. When we see or hear something beautiful, we want to share it. It is a joy to share something you love or care about.

And there is also something deeper. Lewis said, “ I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits, and malcontents praised least.” The people who praised became better people.

The psalmist tell us “I will give thanks with my whole heart. I will recount all of your wonderful deeds…I will sing praise to your name, O Most High”1 When we praise, we give thanks. The act of giving thanks and praise does something to us. Many studies have shown how gratitude impacts us in significant ways. Brain researcher, Dr. Alex P. Korb writes 2 “Your psychological well-being depends less on things that happen to you and more on things you pay attention to…gratitude will shift your brain’s attention.” Korb tells us that practicing gratitude can make you feel happier, lower your stress, and even give you a better night’s sleep.

As we go through our days, not everything will seem praiseworthy. If you turn to the psalms as a whole you will find “a miniature of life”3 At least one third of the psalms are about lament. If you read through to the end of the psalms you see it all ends in praise. We can praise him, everywhere for everything and in every way.4 Something happens when we share everything with God. The act of being with God and sharing our life with him, changes us. We are told that the more we see God the more we become like Him.

In his wrestling with praise, Lewis goes on the say. “Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible.” This is the secret to inner health - becoming people who praise. Lewis notes that “we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”

In commanding us to praise him, God is inviting us to enjoy him and trust in Him. The world is mind-bogglingly beautiful and good because God is always in it. In that, there is hope because no trouble or hardship or action or circumstance can separate you from God or change his love for you. That can keep you going.


1. Psalm 9:1

2. Alex Korb, The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time

3. Tim Keller uses this phrase to describe the psalms.

4. See Psalm 150:1,2,3-5


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