God wants us to worship him – especially during trials.
Easier said that done, right?
Even as I write this one of my friends is waiting for her three-month-old baby to receive a heart transplant after undergoing multiple open heart surgeries to stem the tide of a congenital heart defect. My friend is fighting for joy every second of every day; she is fighting to worship.
Are you fighting to worship when your circumstances threaten to swallow you up like shaky ground or better yet, quicksand? The good news is that God doesn’t leave you to figure out how to praise him when you don’t feel like it.
God’s work in worship (PS. 40:1-5)
In Ps. 40, David tells us that God is involved in our worship.
- He comes to us (vs. 1)
- He hears us (vs. 1)
- He lifts us out of our circumstances (a horrible pit/miry clay) (vs. 2)
- He establishes us on firm footing (vs. 2)
- He guides our steps (vs. 2)
- He helps us praise him (gives us a new song) (vs. 3)
God intends for our worship to be about him. Our worship has nothing to do with our efforts – how well we sing or play the piano or the number of times we served the body of Christ this week. Worship is about God receiving praise even in the midst of cruddy circumstances.
And when outsiders see us worship God in the midst of pain, God alone gets the glory. When they see us singing when we should be crying, thanking when we should be angry, trusting when we should be accusing, they see grace. Because only a work of God could engender that type of worship.
“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 40:1-3)
God desires for us to worship him, not because he’s a raving ego-maniac, but because he thinks good thoughts toward us and wants the best for us. He alone is good and without him we will never know goodness.
“Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.” (Ps. 40:5)
Man’s work in worship (Ps. 40:6-10)
There’s a reason God helps us worship – sometimes we try to make worship about us.
1. What man tries to offer (vs. 6)
When trials come, our worship can easily become about the work of our own hands.
- We worship to gain bargaining power. “Oh God, if you will take care of this situation, I’ll do x,y, or z.”
- We worship out of resentful obligation. “God, I know I really messed up. But if you’d had been there, then this wouldn’t have happened!”
- We worship from a platform of pride. “Hallelujah! Look at me, God! Aren’t you pleased I’m going to church or serving at this event despite my circumstances?”
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.” (Ps. 40:6)
2. What God desires we offer (vs. 8-10)
God doesn’t desire the works of our hands but works born out of a heart that speaks of his goodness. No matter our circumstances, we can always worship God for being good. Ps. 40 shares three ways we experience God’s goodness:
- His good Word (vs. 8 – “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
- His good news (vs. 9 – “I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know.”)
- His good character (vs. 10 – “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly.”)
So, don’t just say “Oh, God’s good!” when people inquire of your circumstances. Truly declare it in specific ways! That’s worship enabled by the good news.
Worship God for his work in the midst of trials (Ps. 40:11-17)
If you’re still not convinced you can praise God for being good when your life is decidedly NOT good, then listen to the ways he is at work in your life right now from this Psalm:
- He is giving you his tender mercies (vs. 11)
- He is preserving you with his lovingkindness and truth (vs. 11)
- He is delivering you from your own sin and the evil around you (vs. 12-13)
- He is bringing justice to your situation (vs. 14-15)
- He is helping you rejoice and be glad continually (vs. 16)
- He is thinking about you and your needs right now (vs. 5,17)
Worshiping the right way and with the right heart is hard business; it’s even harder when life is hard. But God didn’t intend for you to figure out how to worship him on your own or even expect you to do so on your own strength.
God’s goodness is manifested toward us by helping us worship him the way he intended – for our benefit and for his glory – even when we don’t know what to say or how we can say it.
Dear Lord, You are good. Your ways are good and your Word is good. Help me see that goodness today – especially today in the midst of life. Whatever I have churning in my mind and heart, Lord, put a new song in my heart and on my lips. Give me grace to sing instead of cry. Give me the grace to thank you instead of blow up at you or others. Give me the grace to trust instead of accuse. Help me to choose to worship you today by thinking on the ways you are at work in my life even when I can’t see your Hand. I know you’re there. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
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