Author: David Causey, USA (Ret.)

190308-F-BD983-0132. Photo by U.S. Air Force is licensed under CC By 2.0

On the morning of February 19th, 2020 news agencies ran the story of a woman in the UK, Dagmar Turner, who played the violin while undergoing brain surgery.  The 53-year-old woman works as a management consultant.  But her true passion is playing the violin in the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra.

A Surgical Melody

LOS ANGELES (April 29, 2020) Cmdr. Andrew Kaplan, a cardiac electrophysiologist from Phoenix, sutures a patient aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), April 29, 2020. Mercy deployed in support of the nation's COVID-19 response efforts, and serves as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore base hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense's missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg/Released)200429-N-DA693-1194

Therefore, the prospect of brain surgery to remove a tumor made her fearful that her ability to play might be impaired.  So, prior to the surgery, Dagmar’s doctors mapped out her brain.  They did this “to identify areas that were active when she played the instrument and those responsible controlling language and movement.”  Her surgeon at King’s College Hospital in London is the one who suggested that she play music through the surgery.  This would alert them to any danger they posed to hurting her musical skills.

Once the surgeons opened her cranium to expose her brain, they woke Dagmar and she began to play her favorite melodies.  And she continued playing the beautiful strains all through the tense surgery.  She’s since been released from the hospital and now plays the violin as well as ever.

The articles which told Dagmar’s story explained that keeping patients awake and occupied during brain surgery is not uncommon.  Surgeons practice it for the same reasons that they kept Dagmar playing her violin.

Praise in the Storm

Tell me.  Do you find this practice somewhat counter intuitive?  Wouldn’t it seem more sensible to wait until after surgery and a long recovery before playing the violin again?  “Don’t tax yourself too much.  Let’s get through this ordeal before you start playing music.”

It’s much the same as the excuses we give ourselves for not giving thanks and praise to God until our trials and tribulations are over.  “Let’s wait to see how things work out before we start praising God.  After all, we don’t want to tempt the devil during the battle by singing God’s praise.  Something bad might happen.”

This is insane.  Angering Satan should be the least of our concerns (Matthew 10:28).  In fact, it’s a healthy sign if the devil’s mad at us.  It’s an indicator that we’re doing something right and good.  Pleasing God should be our major concern and pursuit in life (Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 5:9).

A Life of Praise

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright greets one of his former Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Amanda Taylor, 726th Operations Group command support staff superintendent, during a base tour Oct. 19, 2018, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Wright and Taylor were stationed together at Osan Air Base, South Korea, between 2007 and 2008 where they played basketball together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew D. Sarver)

Besides this, the Scripture gives us tons of reasons to thank and praise God continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).  The most obvious is that God’s word commands it.  And it’s always for our good that we do so.  For counting our blessings and thanking God for them opens our eyes to the treasures that surround us.  Something miraculous and wonderful happens as we thank and praise God.  We begin to see all of God’s activity around us and in us.  Thanking and praising God will save our sanity.  They will build our faith, give us an attitude of gratitude, and keep our heads above water when the rogue waves slam into us (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5).

And it’s most critical that we thank and praise God in those times when we’d much rather accuse and blame Him.  Look at the patriarch Job.  When he suffered the loss of his children and all his possessions, he was so wracked with grief and heartbreak that he tore his garments and shaved his head.  Yet, at the same time he fell to the ground to worship God, confessing, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20-21).

Think of Paul and Silas, beaten badly with rods on their feet and backs, put in stocks, and locked away in prison.  Too physically miserable to sleep and too bewildered to have any peace of mind, they choose to exercise the believer’s greatest survival skill.  They sang hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God (Acts 16:23-31).  On both occasions – with Job and with Paul and Silas (as well as with others, e.g. 2 Chronicles 20:5-25), God responded to the praise of His servants and brought about deliverance.  But whether deliverance comes or not, we must get into the habit of thanking and praising God while still in the belly of our trials.  Praise and thanksgiving will so sour the devil’s stomach that he’ll flee from us.  Plus, it will give us wings to soar above life’s gloom and sorrows.


Dear Father in heaven, please teach me to praise and worship You, especially in my darkest moments.  Let me experience the liberating joy and faith that praising You brings. Amen.


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