The Bible tells us to “rejoice always” (1 Thess 5:16) and let our mouths be filled with His praise, declaring the Lord’s splendour all day long (Psalm 71:8), but worshipping God doesn’t always come easily.
What do we do when life has left us feeling too empty to sing, let alone lift our hands in praise? We know that we are to worship Him in every circumstance, but when plans have failed, or answers to prayers are pending, or when our hearts are broken and we have nothing left to give, how can we worship the King of the Universe?
Jesus Himself said that God is seeking people to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). We worship in truth by declaring the truth about God – who He is and what He has done – and that He alone is worthy of our reverence, adoration and complete focus, but we also worship in truth when we come to Him in the truth of our circumstances; when we come before His throne in the reality of the mess and brokenness of our lives. Worship with the truth of a grieving heart is imbued with a unique purity. It comes with an acknowledgement of His faithfulness even when we feel the world is crashing down around us.
If we can declare the truth of who God is in the midst of the truth of our circumstances – we are worshipping!
1 Chronicles 16:29 says:
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name.
Bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendour of holiness.”
The name of Jesus – and only His name – deserves all glory and honour and blessing (Rev 5:12), and we are to bring an offering when we come before Him. And, no: we’re not let off the hook when we’re hurting! Worship is a sacrifice, and that means it costs us. Our offering might be a submission of our will, a commitment of finances, or plans, or dreams, or a surrender of the heart – the Holy Spirit will guide us – but when we can say through our tears, “Lord, you are good and I trust in your timing and plan,” we have brought a pleasing sacrifice to our Heavenly Father who knows every tear we cry (Psalm 56:8). And when the best that we can do is simply turn up to church and stand silently while others sing with gusto around us, well, we do exactly that. We turn up. But then, we take a step of faith and ask God Himself to provide the offering.
Just as Abraham trusted God to provide for the sacrifice He was asking of him (Gen 22:8), we can trust that our Creator won’t leave us high and dry. We serve such a merciful and compassionate God that He knows we don’t always have what He needs of us. Even when we turn up to the throne room empty-handed, He is prepared to meet us where we’re at and put in our hands, our mouths or our lungs the very thing we are to give back to Him! As the lyrics go, “It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only!”
If we are trusting in God to provide the offering, we are worshipping!
Not only are we able to worship God through pain, heaviness and hardship, but we need to do it! As we surrender and proclaim His majesty, we are built up in faith, and reminded where our identity truly lies, and we can stand in courage during even the most horrible of storms because we know who our God is and that He is bigger! As we offer up praise to God during the struggles of life, we ourselves are edified! And this is something I cannot comprehend: how our Creator should want us to benefit from bringing Him the worship He is due! How He permits us to revel in His glory! In church, we sing, “You deserve the highest praise! You deserve it all!” and truly, only He does! But in yet another show of His incredible generosity, God invites us to witness and soak in the very “splendour of His Holiness” as we worship Him (1 Chron 6:29).
If we are clinging to all that He is and dwelling in the splendour of the King, we are worshipping!
Habakkuk 3:17-18 is a powerful war cry:
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
What a declaration! Yet I will rejoice. Yet I will be joyful. God is just as glorious and worthy when we’re waiting on healing or a job offer as when things are going really well! No matter what’s on our minds, no matter what news we have just received, no matter the depression that hovers or the loneliness that plagues us, we must develop a stubborn resolve to worship our God. As that beautiful hymn goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” So, bring your circumstances, declare His truth, offer yourself as you are, and be reminded that your Almighty God has everything in hand. Praise God that worship is for His glory, but it’s also for our good!
We can worship the King when our hearts are broken, and we must!