by Lauren Bruce
“I hate this song, so I’m just not going to sing.”
“I can’t lead others in worship when I’m not worshipping.”
I have said both of these things on more than one occasion. And you know what? God still lets me worship Him. I’m still allowed in the throne room. Believe me, if there was a tolerance for how many times you can say or think something stupid, I would’ve been thrown out years ago.
I tend to let my emotions get the best of me, especially in the heat of the moment. If something happens to make me angry or upset two minutes before church starts, I might as well sit in the lobby.
Have you been there? Maybe it’s not anger. Maybe in your life you are walking a tough road — one that weighs heavy on your heart. Maybe the words “O How He Loves Us” are too hard for you to say out loud or maybe God’s called you to something you don’t quite understand. Maybe He’s calling you away from something that you don’t want to let go of.
In any of these situations, it’s hard to lift your hands and sing “Good Good Father.” Did you know that we can worship our Creator, even when we don’t feel like it? Worship is not just for the happy moments in our lives. All throughout the Bible, God shows us examples of how to worship through the tough parts of life and how to worship despite what our emotions may tell us. Here are ways that you can identify these emotions and navigate through hard times with a posture of worship.
Walking into a worship service with anger on your shoulders is not healthy. However, that doesn’t mean you’re only allowed worship God when you’ve gotten over whatever it is that’s frustrating you. In fact, make a beeline for the altar. Take your frustration and place it at the feet of Jesus. He understands anger. It’s not unchristian to say, “God, here’s what’s going on.”
In Romans, we’re urged to offer up ourselves as a living sacrifice. He even goes on to say that doing so is “true and proper worship.” What better way to worship through our anger than by offering up our frustrations as a sacrifice before our God. By bringing what angers us to Him, we are then able to say “God you are God despite what I might feel.”
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)
My favorite verse to go to when I am overwhelmed by grief or sadness is found in Job. It’s one simple verse: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship.” (Job 1:20)
Job just found out that his land, livestock, servants, and all of his children have been destroyed all at once. His first reaction, without hesitation, is to worship. I love the words “at this.” He wasted no time. He didn’t have to think about it. He didn’t wonder how he might survive. He didn’t question, in that moment, whether God stilled loved him. He fell to the ground and worshipped.
God tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Ps 46:10)
Friend, if there is something in your path, if you’ve lost someone, if you have been praying for something that God has not given you yet – whatever sorrow might be clouding your communication with God, take a moment, or a day, or a week, and be still. Still your restless soul and recognize fully who God is. Know that He is sovereign. He is sovereign over our broken hearts. He is sovereign over our pleading. He is sovereign over our hurt. He has always been sovereign, and He always will be sovereign.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me … my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
Maybe what you’re walking through right now is a calling you don’t understand. Maybe God has called you to a foreign land, far from your family, far from the “normal.”
Maybe God has asked you to give up something. Something you don’t want to give up, something that may not be “bad.” Maybe God has asked you to do something you just aren’t comfortable doing. How do you worship when you don’t understand the plan? How do you rest in Him when you’re not willing to go along with His plan yet?
I want to remind you of Abraham. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God asked Abraham to literally kill his son and offer him up as a burnt offering. I’m going to speak for all of humanity and say that we would all be horribly confused in this situation. The majority of us would probably say no rather quickly but not Abraham.
In verse three of Genesis 22, it says that Abraham even got up early the next morning. He wasted no time. He was eager to obey God. As believers, we have to obey first and offer up ourselves even when it doesn’t make sense — worship when we are baffled. God will show up. He will show up, just like he showed up and presented a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac.
“Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together.” (Gen. 22:8)
Finally, I want to encourage you to approach the throne with joy, no matter the circumstance. Even if we don’t understand the purpose and the call of the Lord, even if we are walking through immense pain, even if we are hurt and angry, count it all joy.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Let perseverance finish its work in you. Let your worship envelope every season of life. Make joy a choice. Lay down your anger, be still and know that He is God, and choose obedience.
About the author: Lauren Bruce is the administrative assistant for the Print Production Team at Brentwood Benson. She has served in choirs and praise teams for as long as she can remember and has a passion for worship ministry. In her free time she loves going on adventures with friends, spend time with her family and playing the banjolele ( a banjo that’s strung like a ukelele).