This week we observed what happens when people who truly know and love their God are struck with horror beyond words. Something Satan meant for pure evil – that blasted a gaping hole in the very heart and soul of a church and beyond – resulted in the display of God’s inexpressible glory to the world. That’s what happens when His children refuse to hand the enemy his victory but run into their Savior’s arms instead. It’s obvious they know Him intimately, because their words expressed nothing but His supernatural forgiveness, love, hope, and strength. They’re experiencing a grace I can’t begin to imagine.
While we watch our TV screens in horror, we each have our own realities at home. Most of us are untouched by the truly horrific, but still have to walk down roads marked by difficulty, grief, and darkness.
I admit I’m fighting my own spiritual battles right now from several angles. And not surprisingly, the enemy’s fingerprints are all over them.
You’ve been there. These times threaten to weigh us down with thoughts and emotions that aren’t defined by “love, joy, peace, patience, . . .” (Galatians 5:22) – if we’re not prepared.
A couple of nights ago, I finally relented from trying to figure out a certain situation (ridiculous attempt) and prayed, “What do you want me to do?” I didn’t pray it as calmly as you probably just read it. There was a hint of desperation in my voice. I had obviously allowed myself to go further down a dark side-road than I should have.
My always patient, loving God whispered to my soul,
Look – at – Me. In Me you will always find truth – peace – and strength. Stop looking all around and focus right here. On Me. I am all you need. I will guide your next step. Stay here. I love you.
As many times as I’ve proclaimed those foundational truths myself, I obviously needed to hear them again. Thankfully, I listened and responded. And I was reminded in that moment of the power of gazing on my Lord and bowing to Him instead of my circumstances. (I wonder how many times He’s had to remind me of that?)
The Bible is full of examples when people found the barrier-breaking power of worship when they came face-to-face with God – the God who sees, the God who knows, the God who overcomes, God my Rock – in their difficult places.
*David wrote Psalm 63 when he was in the wilderness of Judah. Obviously, the place David is in at this point in his life isn’t all that great. God was protecting him, but He hadn’t changed the situation yet. David knows his need to seek God, and seeks Him “earnestly” (v.1). He does this by entering the “sanctuary” (v.2), or place of worship, “to see [His] power and [His] glory” (v.2).
Why? Because he already knows by experience that God’s “lovingkindness is better than life” (v.3), and he knows his need to verbalize it once more. After all, his “life” was on the line (v.9)!
So this was David’s expression of faith and the beginning of worship to the God that he knew intimately. As David continues to lift up who God is, he finds “satisfaction” (v.5) for his soul. He then continues to “remember” (v.6) God’s faithfulness and strength in the past, leading to an increase in his faith and reliance on God for his current situation.
We begin to feel defeat “in the dry and weary land where there is no water” (v.1), when we fail to recognize that we “thirst” and “yearn” (v.1) for God. We don’t strive to “see” (v.2) Him there, and therefore, we fail to drink to quench the thirst. We don’t “remember” (v.6) who He is and then fail to worship Him. The end result is that we fail to find the “satisfaction” (v.5), increased faith, strength, and even “joy” (v.7) that He makes available to us.
David wasn’t in denial about his situation. He was living in the midst of the reality of who God was for him in that situation. That reality was only found because David chose to worship.
Warren Wiersbe says, “It is our regular worship that prepares us for the crisis experiences of life. What life does to us depends on what life finds in us.”1 [Emphasis mine.]
May the difficult places of life find in us hearts that comprehend the power of God’s presence and glory in worship and therefore choose to bow before Him once again.*
What’s an example of when (as Warren Wiersbe said) your “regular worship” prepared you “for the crisis experiences of life”? Or when did God pull you out of a difficult pit as a result of turning to worship?
¹ Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Worshipful (David C. Cook, 2004), p.207
* Sections between * * are taken from my book, Worship and the Word.
Photography by Ivan Brooker
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