Just as the women blessed Naomi and praised God after Ruth gave birth to a son, so I have also been blessed by loving women friends. Petey is one of them. A deepening of our relationship came the year we shared a cabin at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference following my son's death. After we settled in, we spent time praying for our families and those who would be attending the conference. Then we talked about what God was doing in our lives.
Petey's words almost tripped over each other when she described what the Lord had been teaching her about the high praises of God. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, my back braced again the edge of the bed, I leaned my elbow on my knee and cupped my chin in my hand.
My friend's excitement was palpable, as she drew a folded piece of paper from the pages of her Bible. I listened as she read aloud what she'd written:
Determined to praise the Lord in spite of being in the pit, I sat in the Sunday worship service obediently, but joylessly rasping out my praise to God. As I blew my nose and blended my quavering voice with the congregation, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse, "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth." (Psalm 149:6 KJV).
She looked up and smiled at me. "I've never understood what high praises are," she said. "and if there are high praises, are there also low praises? What is the difference?" She turned the page over and continued reading.
"What are high praises, Father? Your throne is fixed in the heavens. As I praise You from earth, doesn't my praise always rise the same distance to reach You? Why is some praise 'high praise'?
"And then I thought of Joseph (less his coat of many colors), who praised God from his pit. 'You are like Joseph,' God seemed to say to my spirit. 'You are alone in a pit of confusion and pain, unable to climb out of your sorrow. When you offer the sacrifice of praise from the deep pit place it must rise higher to reach My throne. It becomes high praise-most precious in My sight.'"
Struck by the truths she had gleaned, I leaned forward. "I've done that," I whispered, "I mean praised Him from the pit. Except it wasn't me. "
I remembered the last two hours of my son Dow's life. His girlfriend Jane and I had been at his side, doing what we could to ease his pain and agitation. We assured him of our love and our hands were gentle as we cared for his needs. When he took his final breath Jane and I bowed our heads and wept. The first words that poured out of my mouth were from the Holy Spirit. "Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus. Bless Your Holy Name."
I had barely finished my story when Petey was beside me. Her hands touched my hair, my forehead. The prayer and blessing she spoke wrapped around my aching heart. "Lord, bring healing and peace to Eva's mind, heart and spirit, even her whole body. Grant her Your Blessing from this time forth and even forevermore." Then she hugged me.
As my Friend held me in her arms, I realized the words of thanksgiving I had prayed to Jesus the morning my son died had been a sacrifice of praise. The words of thanksgiving which flowed from my lips the day Dow flew away to heaven, were the kind of praises the Psalmist David wrote when he penned the words, Let the high praises of God be in their mouth..."