Honest Hallelujahs

Isaiah 36:1-12

I was too young. Youth and vitamins fortified my body; a promising future fortified my mind. But something else threatened all that, something that made me hold my breath for several months. On the day of my final checkup, after the surgery that removed what wasn’t supposed to be there, the office receptionist was infuriatingly chipper. “Everything is going to be just fine,” she assured me. “That’s a bold claim,” I thought, picturing pink balloons dancing behind her like tiny messengers of a bubble gum hope that I could not stomach.

In the post-mammogram room, we patients waited completely threadbare in hospital gowns.

As we grew antsy, ready to break the ice with small talk, two technicians walked in with test results. One sat down by an elegant lady and whispered that her results were inconclusive. We all held our breath for her. The other technician approached me with a thumbs up sign, saying, “You’re good to go! See you in six months!”

As I quietly ducked into the dressing room to put on my clothes, I cried tears of overwhelming gratitude. But I also cried for the beautiful woman with her manicured hands and fancy glasses who had just received questionable news. She must have seen the leftover tears in my eyes, because as I was leaving she whispered, “They said you’re good to go. You go, honey!” and gave me a thumbs up.

In that moment, I remembered that honest hallelujahs don’t have to decide between grateful praise and questioning pleas. The beauty of an honest hallelujah is that it will carry the weight of both. This is what the Israelites know when they hear the question: On what do you base this confidence of yours? (v. 4).


On what do you base your confidence? When has your honest hallelujah contained joy and when has it housed pain?


Creator God, fortify us with the strength and courage to breathe an honest hallelujah. Amen.

This post originally appeared in Volume 28.1 of Reflections.

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