"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together." Ps. 34:3. This Scripture has long been a favorite of mine, as it deals with what happens when God's people worship together. Living in the country, it's not uncommon for me to hear people say that they don't need to go to church to worship God; they do it better out in the woods, in nature. While I understand the sentiment and the sense of peacefulness that can come when immersed in the solitude and solace of nature, those words belie a misunderstanding of what happens when we worship together.
If you look through a magnifying glass, the object beneath the lens doesn't get any bigger; it just looks that way. When we magnify The Lord, he doesn't get any bigger - he can't - he just looks bigger to us. When life turns violent and the storm threatens to overwhelm us, our problem can look bigger than our God. It's not; but it looks that way. Which is why we need to magnify The Lord; to get the proper perspective on our lives.
But how do we magnify the Lord? We do it together. When we are with other believers who can encourage us, challenge us, correct us, remind us who we are. When I am by myself, I have no way to expand my perspective, to see my problems in a different light. I need others to help me. We magnify the Lord when we're together.
Of course, it's not a given that being with other believers means God is magnified. Put people together and there is always the potential for trouble. Anyone who's been in church for any time can tell stories of church fights, splits, and general ugly animosity. The place where God intends for us to find grace, mercy, and forgiveness can often be plain ugly. What is it about being together that results in God being magnified? A few days ago, I ran across this text that I hadn't before noticed: "I will praise the name of God in song, and magnify him with thanksgiving." Ps. 69:30. Songs of praise and thanksgiving are how we magnify God together. It is also how we magnify him during those in between times when we are by ourselves. I can tell from my own experience that praise and thanksgiving have the capacity to open our eyes to see God as he really is: bigger than our problems, bigger than our feelings, bigger than anything we face. I am thankful tonight for the gratitude that magnifies God to me. Try it. Gratitude and praise will help you see God more clearly for who he really is: bigger than your problems.