Why am I so often so negative about things?
Anyway, one emphasis I've come across a bit recently is the idea that when we praise God, it is primarily about what he is doing at the moment in people's lives and so on. I'm not for one moment suggesting that we should stop praising God for that, but I think that there's a real danger if that's what we base our praises on.
What if everything seems to be going horribly wrong? What if people are going through really hard times? Are they meant to search for little threads of consolation. "Dear God, thank you that I've still got one arm left." What happens if they lose that arm too?
No, our praise should be based primarily on what does not change - on God's character, on what he has done, supremely in Jesus, on what he will do in restoring us perfectly in his image, so that his name may be praised forever. Do we value the gifts more or the giver? Which should we be praising God for more?
This is what the prophet Habakkuk could pray, knowing that God was about to come and judge his people and drive them out from the land.
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:17-19, NIV