A dear lady who has been through more than one person should have to, convicted my heart about worship a few weeks ago. Actually, her actions; Her worship – convicted me. I don’t know everything about her story but I’ve witnessed some. And to think that she can worship the Savior through all of her suffering made me question why I can’t.
You know it’s hard when you struggle with something no one else can see. You can appear fine on the outside. And be a complete mess on the inside. I wonder if people who are really close to me can tell a difference? Do they miss the old Faith as much as I do or do they think I’m handling it pretty ok? Do they see me go on with life and think it must be better? Or are they confused because I do some things, but can’t do others? Or do they just think I won’t do them? Do they think I’m afraid, that I’m faking it or trying to milk all the sympathy I can? Do they see the pain I struggle with, the envy as I watch other people do normal things without having to worry about being dizzy? How can they possibly know the countless tears I’ve cried. Even over things that don’t make sense. Last week I had a yard sale. And I sold some stuff I’d been holding onto for a couple of years. I kept thinking, “Maybe one day….” But I ended up selling my bassinet for $20. I wonder if the people I sold it to thought my reluctance was because I wanted to get more out of it. There’s no way they could know that afterwards, I just bawled my eyes out. Because it felt more like I was selling my dreams. It felt like maybe I was giving up a little. Not on having another baby, but just on being happy. That seems a little dramatic now, I guess, but it felt that way in the moment. I don’t know what people think. I’m not supposed to care. But if we’re all honest, deep down, we do. We want people to not think we’re crazy and that sometimes we just hurt. And we are human. And sometimes we want them to see how hard life is. At some point, though, life gets hard for everyone. And I have to remind myself of this when I look at others and wish I could get a break. Because I don’t know their struggle and maybe they are thinking the same thing about me.
There’s one thing I do care the most about people seeing. If I have to go through something, I want them to see one thing above all else. Worship. We all have our own picture of what we think worship looks like. But the Bible meaning for worship is “To cause one’s self to lie prostrate (especially reflexively in homage to royalty or God): bow, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly make obeisance, reverence, to make to stoop, worship.”
Let’s break this down. “To cause one’s self”. This means it doesn’t come naturally. Boy, does it not come naturally. I want to sit and scream and complain and throw a fit because this isn’t what I want. I have to cause myself to not do that. I have to cause myself to worship.
“To lie prostrate”. This is maybe even harder to do. Prostrate means to bow or lie stretched out on the ground with your face downward. This is humbleness. Submission. There is not even the slightest bit of pride involved in lying prostrate. This means I must let go of what people think. I must let go of what I want. I must lay everything stretched out before His feet.
I’ve thought that worship is when people cry and testify and raise their hands in church. When they talk of how much they love God. How thankful they are for what He’s done. And that is worship. But true worship goes even deeper than that. It’s when you go home, away from the church doors and the watching eyes and you’re alone with God. What happens then? True worship must express more than love for God; it must also express submission to His will. It means every time He asks you to do something or give something up, you do it. When He says go, you go. Submission to His will is sometimes painful. Sometimes it is great joy, but sometimes it can also be great sorrow.
Why would I want people to see worship? Wouldn’t it be better to want them to see God? His love for me, for sinners? Or my love for Him? Or His power? His grace? Yes, but that’s all wrapped up in worship. Worship says I love You, Jesus. But it also says I love You no matter what. Worship says I trust You, Jesus. But it also says, even though it seems like You’re killing me, I still trust You. Worship has no time for worrying about showing off or asking for sympathy, because it has been stretched out, bowed down, face buried. It can no longer see or hear or care about what anyone thinks other than the One it is lying in front of. Worship is submission to Jesus in everything. But it’s also submission when He asks for everything. Worship can allow the world to see God’s love, God’s goodness, God’s trustworthiness. How? Because if He’s asked for everything, and it appears He’s trying to destroy me, and he tells me what and how to do things, how does that show the world anything but a cruel taskmaster? Because. They can see our love for Him despite what He’s taken away. Because we know what He’s given in return for what He’s taken away. Because of our submission to Him in spite of what He’s asked for. Because He’s come through enough times to carry on. To not give up. I fail in these things everyday. But God doesn’t. He gives me the grace and strength and comfort to wake up and face it all again. And somehow that shows a picture of God that is more precise than any words could ever tell.
But how do we do that? How do we truly worship Him through all the pain, the suffering, the struggle? It’s still painful; it still hurts. I don’t know. I don’t know how. Sometimes it’s seems too hard, that I’ve lost too much. And I’m not saying I’ve lost more than others, not even close. But we all feel that way in our own trials, right?
So one day, I just kept asking him. “How do I worship You, Lord? I don’t know how; You’re going to have to show me.” He did. Not exactly the way I thought he would. I want an answer I can argue with. Something that I can dismiss if I don’t like it.
He immediately brought Job to mind. Now Job had reason to think, “I’ve lost everything.” All his cattle, all his wealth, all 10 of his children, and then his health. He was accused by satan. His friends thought he was being punished for sin, his wife thought he was crazy and should just go ahead and curse God and die, and still He didn’t blame God. Question Him, yes. Understand Him, no. Trust Him? Worship Him? Love Him? Yes, yes, yes.
And I thought if Job can, surely I can.
Then the Lord brought to mind Paul and Silas. Beaten, locked up in prison. Why? For obeying Jesus. Yet they prayed and sang and praised the Lord anyway. In a dark cell, in chains, through pain.
And I thought if they can, surely I can.
David. Little shepherd boy who unflinchingly faced the giant when all the other mighty men were scared to. Went on to become a King. David endured so much adversity, you’d think he’d be the most miserable person in the world. And sometimes he was. But he encouraged himself in the Lord. He worshipped. He wrote the greatest book in the bible about praise despite pain.
And I thought if David can, surely I can.
And then my mind stopped. I couldn’t seem to think of anymore, and the Lord whispered, “What about Me?”
And I thought if Jesus can, surely, surely, surely I can.
He left everything. All the comforts. A King born in a cold stable, a manger for His bed. He grew into adulthood with no place to lay His head. Forsaken by all He loved. By the very ones He came to save. He submitted everything in the garden. And not easily. He struggled to pay a price He shouldn’t have even had to pay. Because He was perfect. He did not deserve to die. But He trusted His Father and there are pages filled with His trust, His praise. There is a hill and an empty tomb that says it all. Ultimately He sacrificed His life; His blood; His all. For me. He died…. for me.
And I cry about letting go of a baby bassinet.
You know He didn’t really tell me exactly how to worship. No, He showed me. And like Job, I said “Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not…I have heard of thee by the hearing ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:3, 5
Who am I to complain? I have a choice. We all have a choice. We can sit in the ashes and wonder where God is and what He’s doing. Or we can worship Him, like Job, from the ashes.
If all those people, who faced immeasurably more pain than I can imagine, can worship Him…. surely I can.