Words on Worship I – Worship In The Midst Of Suffering

Several years ago I served as Worship Pastor for a small church plant in Flowery Branch, GA. One of the things I tried to do for our people was to send out a weekly email with some focused thoughts on Worship. I thought about these emails the other day and thought they’d be good material for this blog.

With tomorrow being the 7 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I wanted to share this email. I wrote this on the 1 year anniversary of 9/11, 6 years ago.

As the first anniversary of September 11th came and went I found my mind constantly thinking about the theme of worshipping God in the midst of our suffering.  So many times, when we are suffering, we tend to think, “I still love God, but I am grieving right now, so I can’t worship while I grieve.”  When our nation was rocked to it’s knees last year, there was an entire nation that was grieving.  Many people asking, “Why, God?”, “why would you let something like this happen?”  Very respectable questions when over 3,000 people lost their lives at the hands of 14 men.  You know, we will probably never be able to answer the question of “Why, God”, but we can answer the question of, “How, now, do we worship God in the midst of our pain and suffering?”

    As I thought about this, I was drawn to the book of Job.  One of the most comprehensive books of the bible on suffering.  I was drawn to this book because I remembered reading before about how God allowed Satan to test Job, and how Job, through all of his agony, remained a man of Faith, and a man who loved and feared God.  As I read and re-read through this book, there were a couple of verse that jumped off of the page to me, and gave me the vision for these “Words on Worship”, but first I will give the JSV (Josh’s Standard Version) paraphrase leading up to the verses in mind.  At the time Job was living, He was one of the wealthiest people alive, in fact, in verse 3, it says that Job was the greatest of all the men of the east”.  While being so wealthy and successful, Job remained also, one of the most righteous men of the time, living a blameless and upright life, fearing God and turning away from evil.  By God’s permission, Satan was allowed to test Job.  This leads us up to the following passage, bear with me, I am giving you the entire passage, please read it all, as it’s importance will be revealed at the end

Job 1:13-22

Now it happened on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,that a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkey’s feeding beside them, and the Sabeans attacked and took them.  They also slew the servants with the edge if the swordand I alone have escaped to tell you.”  While he was still speaking another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants consumed them, and I alone escaped to tell you.”  While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and fell to the ground and worshipped, and he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”

WOW.  That is all I can say.  As our nation was rocked and newscast after newscast came in, before the previous one was finished and told us of all we had lost and the horror of that day, did we fall to the ground and worship God? I know I didn’t.  I prayed and I prayed, but I know worship was far from my mind.  How are we to worship in a time like that?  Our worship comes from knowing that God is sovereign and above all.  Knowing that He has the power to save, the power to give life, and the power to take it away.  Knowing that He loves us through it all!

In Acts, Luke tells us a story about Peter and John.  Peter and John had been arrested for preaching around town and in the temple courts.  While in prison, they were released during the night by an angel of the Lord, and told to continue preaching in the very place they had been arrested, so they did.  Arrested again, they were sentenced to death, and were spared by the speech of a man named Gamiliel (a man who’s name we hear again in the writings of Paul, as one of Paul’s teachers.).  Spared execution, Peter and John are ordered to be flogged and released.  So, after being flogged, as they crawled out of the court, bloody and broken, they sang praise to God and rejoiced!  Whoa, now why in the world would they rejoice in that?  For the same reason that we can rejoice in our suffering and worship God through our distress.  Acts 5:41 reads, “So they went on their way from the presence of the high council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy of suffering shame for His name.”

Peter and John had been counted worthy, not by their accusers, but by God, to suffer shame, disgrace, and even pain for His name!

So, let us take on that same attitude and look at our suffering through that same lens, that God has considered us worthy, and is in fact developing us and drawing us closer to Him through our pain.  We are on the road of sanctification which leads to the end of glorification.  So let us be tested and tried so that we can be made perfect before our perfect God.

James 1:2-4

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result , that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Josh

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~ by rhinorun on September 10, 2008.

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