But truly and most assuredly essential!
It's so easy for us as Christians to issue forth with the trite little statements, especially when, for others, the fan has become the target for some of life's excreta! You probably know what I mean, those little, 'Well praise the Lord anyway,' moments.
Praise is easy when things are running well and life just keeps on being good and yet more often than not the self same people who 'encourage me' and exhort me to praise are the very worst example of how not to do it right when it's their turn in the stocks of life. It's never easy to find that those you thought were part of the family never were or to have people who should know better proving they know little of what Christianity should be or how they ought to behave.
The dark moments when people you thought we're friends turned out to be anything but and the struggle to live in that place where their 'not being friends' doesn't become 'being enemies', the confusing moments when instead of tending our wounded - we shoot them!
In the middle of our struggles we find Hebrews 13.15 and the call:
'Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.…'
Regardless of the situation before us, we need to 'count our blessings' and to see past the immediate struggle - putting it into perspective and rather than get lost in the mire, rise about the situation, the people, the follies and foolishness and focus on what is good. Philippians 4.8 hits the nail firmly on the head:
' Finally, brothers,
whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
think about such things.
May this truth be ours, and in those around us, today and every day of our lives.