TWO PRAISES AND THANKSGIVINGS
"And on the fourth day they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah; for there they blessed the Lord: therefore the name of the same place was called, The valley of Berachah, unto this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat in the forefront of them, to go again to Jerusalem with joy; for the Lord had made them to rejoice over their enemies. And they came to Jerusalem with psalteries and harps and trumpets unto the house of the Lord" (vv. 26-28). There are two sections to our praises and thanksgiving. One section happens before the victory, and the other section happens after the victory. The great mistake that we make today is that we do not have the praise that is uttered before the victory; we hold back this praise and wait to see what happens. Many brothers and sisters have acknowledged that they cannot make it and that they will not try to make it. They have believed in God’s facts and believed that Christ is their victory. But they dare not say, "Hallelujah, I have overcome." One brother said that he had to wait and see whether it would work. Another sister said that she had to wait and see whether it would produce the right result. They were saying that they would praise God the next day if they saw some results. But Jehoshaphat had two praises. Every overcomer should have two praises: praises before his eyes see the result and praises after his eyes see the result. This is the tone of victory. As soon as we stop our praise, we are defeated and we lose our victory.
We ask whether or not we have overcome, but I must ask whether or not we have shouted, "Hallelujah." "Hallelujah" is the tone of victory. If the tone is right, the victory is genuine. We can fabricate anything, but we cannot fabricate the tone of victory. Every overcomer has a tone which continually rejoices and praises. We can tell where a man comes from by his tone. We also can tell if a man has overcome by his tone. The mark of victory is the shout of "hallelujah" and "praise the Lord." When temptation arises, the mark of victory is the ability to say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!" No one who looks at himself can praise the Lord. Only those who look to the Lord can praise Him. Once we look at ourselves, we will find that we are unable, and we will not be able to say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord." Once we behold the Lord we can say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord." It does not matter whether temptations have increased. It does not matter whether the Moabites and the Ammonites are more numerous than before. The battle is the Lord’s, not ours. The Lord is responsible for everything. Therefore, the tone of victory is in our rejoicing, praising, and thanksgiving to the Lord. We do not have to wait until we have actually failed, been defiled, and sinned before saying that we are defeated. As long as we stop our praise and thanksgiving, we have lost our victory. We do not have to commit any great sin; as long as we do not boast in His victory and as long as we do not thank and praise, we have lost our victory. Brothers and sisters, the overcoming life that God has given sings "hallelujah" every day; it rejoices every day. Once this mark is gone, the victory is lost.
MAINTAINING ONE’S VICTORY IN JOY AND REJOICING
A verse which is very familiar to us is Nehemiah 8:10: "For the joy of the Lord is your strength." The life that God has given us is expressed in joy. Our Lord Jesus lives in an atmosphere of joy, rejoicing, praise, and thanksgiving. This is the lesson I have learned during the past few years. In the past, I knew that I was forgiven and that I had endured, consecrated, and obeyed the Lord. But I felt somewhat bitter, and there were some small complaints. I could not thank and praise the Lord. Whenever we cannot thank and praise Him, we are defeated. Brothers and sisters, our victory is found in our joy. Whenever we throw away our joy and rejoicing, we throw away our victory as well. Whenever we throw away our joy and rejoicing, we become bound. A brother testified that he had never realized as much as in these past few days that joy affords strength. Whenever we are not joyful and rejoicing, we are depressed. We have to maintain our victory in joy and rejoicing. Victory is like a fish which must be kept in water. Victory has to be kept in joy and rejoicing. We should maintain our victory in joy and rejoicing.
REJOICING IN TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS
But how can we rejoice? We can rejoice and praise God joyfully over many things. For example, if we have passed the gate of victory and power, we can rejoice and praise God joyfully. But the Bible says that we can rejoice in many of the things that we normally do not rejoice in. We can find out from the Bible the kinds of things we can rejoice in.
Second Corinthians 8:2 says, "That in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality." This verse tells us that the Macedonians had the abundance of joy in the midst of much testing and affliction. They did not have one or two drops of joy but the abundance of joy. Brothers and sisters, we have to always rejoice, and we have to have the abundance of joy. Even in the midst of tribulations, we should still rejoice. The life of Christ is a life of victory, and we can boast in His victory. Even when large armies are threatening us and great tribulations are awaiting us, we can still rejoice and praise the Lord. One characteristic of victory is the overflow of praise and thanksgiving in the midst of tribulation.
There is a brother who was a railroad worker. One of his legs was cut off by a passing train in an accident. When he woke up in the hospital after the accident, he was asked whether he could still thank and praise the Lord. He answered, "I thank and praise Him because only one leg was cut off." Brothers and sisters, even though he encountered tribulation, he was able to thank and praise the Lord. This is the tone of victory. The tone of victory is thanksgiving and praise in the midst of great tribulation.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 2) Vol. 24: The Overcoming Life, Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)