Psalm 66:16-20 “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.”
Notice the pronouns the psalmist is using. In earlier verses he talked about “we” and “our” and “us.” Now he switches to talking about “I” and “my” and “me.” This is his testimonial. Because the Lord had tested him, and then preserved him, he had a story to tell. And so do you. And so do I.
Our story is the stuff of real praise because it is not so much our story as it is his story. Praising God is more than repeating acceptable slogans and phrases like “Praise the Lord,” or “Hallelujah” or “Hosanna.” It involves telling the story. Have you ever seen the Disney movie Finding Nemo? The little clownfish Nemo has been captured by an Australian dentist to be added to his aquarium. His father Marlin swims half-way across the Pacific Ocean to try to rescue him. He fights off sharks and jelly fish and hungry sea gulls along the way. Toward the end of his journey, Marlin’s story of adventure and perseverance gets picked up by some sea turtles. They tell it to other sea creatures. Pretty soon Marlin has become a living legend under the sea.
Our story is important not because we are the hero or the legend. We are more like little Nemo, stuck in the fish tank, waiting to be rescued. Our story is important because Jesus has come to the rescue—from sin, and death, and a whole host of lesser problems scattered across our lives. There is no higher or sincerer way of praising him than telling the story in which he is the hero every time that it’s told. “But God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
Does the story always have a happy ending? Maybe not when viewed through merely human eyes. Sometimes Israel lost its battles. Sometimes the Apostles died for their faith. Sometimes our circumstances go from bad to worse. Jesus’ own body was taken lifeless from the cross.
But we live every day and all of life in the light of Jesus’ empty tomb. His empty grave promises there is more to the story than meets the eye, and that our story, like his story, isn’t over yet. We worship the God who raises the dead. Praise the God who hears our prayers and never withholds his love!