We began the first week of Lent with adoration, praise, and thanksgiving and have now come full circle to focus on responding in worship with thanksgiving and praise. This beginning and end of sorts is no coincidence. Worshiping God is the purpose for every breath man has ever taken, so it is good and satisfying to sit at God’s feet and worship Him.
But is the Gospel good enough news for you to worship and thank God when something tragic happens? This is a question believers have been asking for all of history, and the Bible doesn’t skirt around the issue:
“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” Job 2:10 NIV
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as hseep to be slaughtered.” Romans 8:36 & Psalm 44:22
Jesus Himself wept in grief when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:35)
These are the moments that are most difficult to continue worshiping and thanking God for who He is and what He has done; yet, they are also the times we need more than anything to remember the Truth and worship regardless of how we may feel. This might sound insensitive or harsh if you’re in a dark place today, but there is truly no medicine for the soul like taking in God’s truth and responding to Him because of it. If this is something you need or struggle to believe, spend this week talking to God about it.
Ask Him to help you.
“And he said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ … And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’”
Luke 22:15, 17-20
“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” John 19:28-30
Jesus said He would not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God comes; He next drank wine before He breathed His last on the cross. With His last breath he inaugurated the coming of the Kingdom, and we are invited in.
“Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.”
Do you believe it’s possible for the darkest parts of you, your greatest hurts, your worst memories, for those waste places in your soul to break out into singing praises to God? Talk to God honestly about this, name those places. Ask God to help you to experience His comfort in those specific places. With those things in mind, sing your favorite worship song out loud to God. Sing to Him as the one who has promised to make beauty and light shine in the darkest, most painful places.
“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.’” Revelation 4:8-11
Close your eyes and imagine these verses, six winged creatures and all. Pay attention to how these heavenly beings talk to God, how they interact with Him. Have you ever praised God or fallen down before Him like they do? How do you tend to respond to God? Talk to Him about this. As you sit before God in prayer, just as these heavenly beings sit before Him, ask God to show you more of Himself so you can worship Him with increasing awe and adoration.
“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.
Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.” Isaiah 44:21-23
Sit quietly and think about the specific things God has done for you. Name each of these back to God, talk Him about them in detail. Did you earn them? Did you deserve them? Return from you wandering as you recount what He’s done in prayer. Does remembering how God has rescued you make you want to respond in any specific way? If so, do it! If not, ask God to show you how to respond to Him. Whether it be in song, journaling, drawing, dancing, praying, etc. ask Him to help you worship Him.
“This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken–that is, things that have been made–in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:27-29
Talk to God about the things of the Kingdom that cannot be shaken. What specific aspects of the Kingdom are you most grateful for? Talk to God about this. Worship Him for ensuring that all good things will remain forever!
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12
Do you regularly experience the joy of your salvation? Talk to God openly about this. Ask God to show you what keeps you from experiencing joy in your life as a believer. What tends to bring you most joy in your Christian life? Why do you think that is? Take some time to talk to God about these joyful things and let them stir up worship in your heart!
“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20
Close your eyes and imagine Jesus’ return… is that a day you long for, fear or are just indifferent toward? Talk to God about it, tell Him what you imagine his kingdom is like and what you treasure instead of it. Ask Him to come! Ask Him to come soon!