In preparing this week for worship on Sunday, I began thinking about what actually leads us to worship the Lord. In it’s most simple definition, worship is our response to God’s glory. When God reveals Himself to us, His character, His heart, His will for our lives, how we respond to Him is our worship. It’s seems easy to worship Him when we see how He’s working, how He’s moving in our lives and the lives of those around us.
It’s more difficult to worship God when we can’t see Him working. It’s more difficult when we see people around us, people we love, acting in ways that seem void of God’s character in their lives. It’s difficult to respond to God’s glory when we don’t see His glory lived out in those around us. Perhaps even harder is when we see “Godly” people truly seeking the Lord for help, for healing, for answers with seemingly no response from God. It’s hard to respond to God working when we can’t see what He’s doing.
When our hearts are broken and we feel hurt, abandoned, and in anguish, God does not expect us to worship as a result of those feelings. Our feelings can lead us astray. Our hearts can be foolish. They can even be hardened. The psalmist tells us that our hearts and are flesh will fail us. God doesn’t expect us to dig down deep, shake it off, dry up those tears and return to abundant life. He expects us to sit atop the ash heap of our lives with NOTHING left inside. We are human beings living in a fallen world and, as Jesus promised, we will suffer. However, God reveals His glory to us so that in the middle of the rubble we can respond to Him because we know with our minds that He is faithful and He is kind and He is loving! God has revealed Himself to us time and time again so we will know with confidence who He is, so we will not be undone, even in suffering. He desires us to worship by responding to His character in times of crisis, not what we may or may not see Him doing in that moment. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways and thoughts are far beyond what we can comprehend. That is why there are countless scriptures in His Word where He reminds His people of His faithfulness, His kindness, and His love. He wants us to know who He really is, so when we suffer and our hearts are weak, we can respond in worship to HIM. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 that “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Paul is contrasting how we feel during brief moment against the nature of an eternal God who never leaves or forsakes us. That is a truth that we can stand on because it has been proved from generation to generation, with not a single blemish on God’s record. When we worship, we respond to God’s character. We respond to who we know Him to be.
God teaches me so much through my children. One of those things is how He feels when He asks His children to endure something or do something without knowing why, without being able to see the outcome. Charlotte has literally fallen to her knees in anguish when asked to clean her room. Picture her looking up at her ceiling, shaking her fists, and crying out, “Why Dad, why?” I may even be underplaying it! My boys’ hearts are broken when I make them stay inside their play house instead of climbing up on top of the roof to “fix” the roof with long nails and some boards, which I’m still not sure from where they came. The rolled eyes and crushed dreams aside, at the heart of their “suffering” is a loving father who really does know what’s best and really does love his children more than they know.
At the heart of our suffering, is a heavenly Father who is faithful even when we are faithless, truthful even when we lie to ourselves, and relentlessly loving even when we are hot and cold. He has no beginning or end. The constraints of time and space mean nothing to Him. He is faithful according to His, sometimes unseen, unknown, life-long purposes. He loves us with a love that we cannot fathom and poured His wrath out on His only Son, so He would not have to pour it out on us. That is how faithful to His Word that He is! That is how loving and king He is to us! That is glory that deserves my response, my worship, my life!