One of the greatest remedies for a heavy heart is praise to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.
The early church continuously offered praise God (Acts 2:46-47). Praise has a paralyzing effect on the enemy – as the old song reminds us, “The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: may Jesus Christ be praised!”
Give some thought to the amazing truth that we have been saved by God “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:6).
A heavy heart finds comfort and relief when we turn to the worship of praise. We have a great example of this from the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Doxology to Jesus Christ
Doxology is “to praise” or “ascribe glory to.” Reflect on the first of a number of doxologies in the book of Revelation.
The apostle John (in the midst of his suffering) lifted praise to God, “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).
After communicating grace (divine favor) and peace (spiritual well being) from Jesus Christ, he identified Jesus with a threefold description as: “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” The apostle John then offered praise to Christ for His saving work in His love for us (demonstrated in His death for our sins), and for opening up privileged standing for us before God.
The praise increases
- 1:4 “To Him be the glory and dominion”
- 4:11 “To Him be the ‘glory and power’”
- 5:13 “To Him be ‘blessing and honor and glory and dominion’”
- 7:12 “To him be blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might”
Praise in the storm
This worship of praise is even more significant when you consider the apostle John’s circumstances. John has been banished to a desolate and dangerous island because of his vigorous and persistent testimony for Jesus Christ. He is elderly and separated from those He loves and from his place of ministry.
John offered his praise in the person and work of the One who transcends all circumstances.
John’s faithful witness caused him to be on the island of Patmos and could have resulted in his death. The world’s King banished him there. How timely is the revelation of Christ as the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth? This revelation of Jesus leads him into praise.
We are Loved – the unchanging basis for praise
What is the first point of praise for John? Notice it. Never forget it! Verse 5—“to Him who loves us.” John never got over the wonder of the love Christ had for him.
The Apostle John is also known as the apostle of love. Throughout his gospel he will repeatedly refer to a certain disciple as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2-9; 21:7, 20, 24-25). This self-designation, wrote D. A. Carson: “…implies not arrogance (as if to say ‘I am more loved than others’) but a profound sense of indebtedness to grace (‘What a wonder—that I should be loved by the incarnate Word!’) (The Gospel According to John, p. 473).
- It was from John’s writing that we received the most familiar text on love: John 3:16– God’s love for the world.
- It was John who recorded the message of Martha and Mary to Jesus in John 11:3 when they said, “Lord, behold he whom you love is sick.” And when Jesus wept at the graveside of Lazarus, John recorded the observation of the Jews, “Behold how He loved him.”
- It was John who wrote of Jesus, “Having loved His own who were in the world He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). It was John who recorded twice the new commandment “to love one another as Christ has loved us” (John 13:34-35, 15:12).
- It was John who wrote, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God” (I John 3:1). And, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love…” “We love, because He first loved us (I John 4:9-11, 16, 19).
The Apostle John never lost the wonder of God’s love! Jesus Christ is worthy of praise as the “One who loves us.” In a world full of people starved for love, this is a message of great hope!
Greatest theological truth
The great theologian, Charles Hodge, when asked for the greatest theological truth he had ever learned said, “Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
On what does John base his belief in the love Christ has for him? Certainly not on his wonderful circumstances. For John there is something more firm than the shifting circumstances of life (verse 5).
All other ground…
John could sing the song we sing: “My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In ev’ry high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil. His oath, His covenant, His blood Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand—All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.”
The praise builds
“To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.” Here is the proof of His love. Some translations have: “washed us” instead of “released us.” In the Greek language, it is a difference of one letter, but not a change of pronunciation. This is a typical scribal mistake where the truth is not affected either way you translate it. Both are true. Did He wash us? Yes! Did He release us? Yes!
When John thinks of the love of Christ, it’s the death of Christ that is the greatest demonstration of that love. “By His blood” simply refers to “His death—His life poured out in death for us.
Capture the depth of this praise
John did not allow his difficult circumstances to dictate his belief in the love of Christ for him. Rather, he saw what we need to see: that in the death of Christ on the cross we have an active, historic, objective evidence of God’s love that is as real and yet greater than all the tragedies of life that seem to deny His love for us.
John was not given to whimsical measurements of God’s love based on circumstantial or sentimental change. He knew that identification with Jesus, as one of His disciples, would reap the hatred and persecution of the world. Jesus forewarned him of this. John did not need to feel loved to know that he was loved. He did not need cushioned circumstances to know that he was loved. All he needed was to keep his eyes fixed on the cross!
“Through all the immediate distresses, persecutions, and even banishment, John is convinced that believers are experiencing Christ’s continual care. Moreover, in the past Christ’s love was unmistakably revealed in his atoning death, by which he purchased our release from the captivity of sin” (Alan F. Johnson, E. B. C. vol. 12, p. 422).
Redemption and Release
The idea of “released us” or “loosed us” from our sins reminds us that Jesus did not only die to keep us out of eternal judgment, His saving work is meant to release us from the bondage of our sins. I sincerely question the person who says they want Christ to save them from the eternal judgment of their sin, and yet they want to continue in their sin after turning to Christ.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
“He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
Think about it
If you’re comfortable in your sin or your former manner of life, you need to evaluate your relationship with Christ. Is He really your Savior and Lord? Or, do you treat Him as an insurance policy in case eternal punishment is a reality?
John ascribed honor and power: to Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood. “Ours were the sins; His was the blood. Let no man wonder hereafter if salvation is sufficient” (Donald Barnhouse, Revelation, p. 24).
At great cost you have been redeemed—that you might be released from the bondage of your sin. “Joy floods my soul, for Jesus has saved me; freed me from sin that long had enslaved me. His precious blood He gave to redeem. Now I belong to Him” (Norman Clayton).
Loved and loosed
Is that not cause for praise? As the late Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Carry those two words home with you: let them lie upon your tongue to sweeten your breath for prayer and praise!” (Loved and Loosed: Spurgeon’s Sermons on the Second Coming, p. 107).
I titled this post “Remedy for a heavy heart.” It’s timely for me and I hope it lifts you to a place of deep reflection and praise. It makes me recall the little chorus, “Now I belong to Jesus. Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.”
I think I can hear you singing it.