I’ve been working through what it means to be a worshiper. This past year has been filled with a lot of trials and sanctification, and it’s forced me to reckon with what it means to truly worship God. I grew up with a fairly basic understanding of worship but it never went deeper than singing songs and raising hands. I knew that I was supposed to praise God, but I didn’t really know what that meant in light of what I began to experience in my life. When the rubber met the road of my own personal suffering, I didn’t know how to praise God. I thought that if I was honest about the pain of my life God wouldn’t accept that. I was supposed to be happy. I was a Christian. What did I have to be depressed about?
This way of thinking was unsustainable. There’s no way to have a view of worship or joy in God when our worship isn’t in tune with reality.
Luckily that’s not what God asks from us.
Job 1.20 paints a picture of what true worship can look like in the midst of trial. First, some background for the story up to this point: Job has just lost everything. His wealth, his livestock and even his own children. This is where we find Job at the end of the first chapter.
“Then Job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said ‘naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1.20)
This isn’t a shallow statement of “everything will be alright” or a forced smile or happiness. This is a man honestly coming before God and declaring that he remains glorious in spite of suffering. I pray that the magnitude of this passage is not lost on us. God did not create us to be numb to sorrow and pain. He does not promise us an easy life free from suffering.
Why then does our view of worship choose to ignore these facts? Finding joy in God does not mean that we cease to be grieved by pain and sin. It means that we find the surpassing joy of knowing God to be greater than the temporary pain of the world. Worship is not turning a blind eye to sorrow. Worship is not pretending that everything is fine. Worship is not lying. What exactly is worship then?
I’m still working on that one.
But I know that it means I can come before the throne of God as I am, broken and in desperate need of Jesus, without feeling the need to clean myself off or put myself together before He can deal with me. I can praise Him in the midst of my storm, knowing that He works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). That “good” is being made more and more like Christ, who suffered more than Job, more than any of us, but counted it as joy. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12.2)
This week's sermon will be on Ezra 6.1-12, so please make sure you spend some time reading and meditating on that text.
The songs you should be listening to in order to prepare for this Sunday’s Gathering are:
Your Love is Strong
Shine Into Our Night
I Will Glory in My Redeemer
All My Tears
Satisfied in You
Romans 11 Doxology