I remember many years ago living in Mexico as a very young believer. I had been saved less than a year. And, of course, when you’ve been saved less than a year, you know everything!
I was helping with crusade work and speaking in some small churches. I was preaching boldly about God’s ability and desire to meet our needs, and challenging people to stand in faith.
While it was all true, with a touch of arrogance I became quite presumptuous and ended up, due to my zeal and lack of wisdom, down in Mexico with no money.
I ran out of gasoline for my vehicle. Then I ran out of food. I was in this condition for weeks and weeks. I had hardly anything to eat during that time, not because I was spiritual and fasting, but because I could not afford it.
I lost nearly 25 pounds and a dark depression settled over me. I was sleeping on the wooden floor of a little shack in a small colonia in the mountains. The town was full of dust, scorpions, and sick, hairless dogs that roamed the streets. Nothing even grew in the ground there.
I did not want to go to bed at night, and in the morning, I did not want to get up. The sun would come up and I would just pull that tattered blanket over my head and want the world to go away.
But then I did something dangerous. I started reading my Bible. God took me to 1 John, where I read, Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4, KJV). Then I began to read that God wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or think according to the power at work in me. God got my attention, and I remember going outside and beginning to praise Him.
You have to picture this scene: I had lost so much weight that unless I held up my pants at the waist, they were going to fall off. So there I was outside, grabbing my pants with one hand to keep them up. And lifting my other hand to heaven, I began to walk back and forth in that dust shouting at the top of my lungs. For fifteen minutes I just praised God and thanked Him and blessed Him.
I’m sure I looked like a madman to everyone else living in the village. But at the time, shouting at the top of my voice seemed to be the most appropriate way to express my faith. And suddenly God came. Suddenly His presence filled the air all around me. It was the most amazing thing. The depression that was on me was lifted off.
Within twelve hours my entire financial situation turned around. It was really quite miraculous. God supplied me with more than enough to meet all my needs, with plenty left over to bless one of the local pastors and his family with a couple of weeks’ worth of groceries. It is both wonderful and glorious when God’s presence comes in such a tangible way.
But you and I know it is not always that way. His presence is not always so apparent. However, God does always come through when you praise Him…always.
- He always meets the one who rejoices.
- He always draws near to the person who draws near to Him.
- He always inhabits the praises of His people.
When you are at the end of your rope, that is when you need to praise God more than ever—because He will always come through. At that point, praise may become a sacrifice and it may be a test of your faith. But my friend, it does bring the presence of God.