It’s almost Christmas time. Your schedule is probably hectic and crazy. Maybe your budget is a bit strained. It’s almost Christmas time, and I’ll bet that you have a lot of things on your to do list! Can I add one more thing this FAITH-full Friday? Can I add worship to your schedule?
Luke records in Chapter 2 that the shepherds were glorifying and praising God for the things they had seen when they went to take a peek at the newborn baby Jesus.
Would you take a journey with me to take a peek at our Savior? Let’s start with a look into the Psalms. Psalms are songs written to worship God. King David wrote this Psalm.
It might not start out quite like you’d expect though:
1 O Lord, how long will you forget
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
You know, I don’t exactly imagine King David singing this stanza in a heavenly angelic voice. It sounds a bit more like something that’s meant to be yelled or screamed. Who knows, maybe heavy metal has been around a lot longer than we know! All joking aside, these verses don’t strike me as particularly worshipful, yet they are part of a worship song.
It’s interesting to me that King David is so vulnerable before the Lord. He doesn’t put on his holy face in order to cry out to God. He’s just honest. God I feel like you’ve forgotten me.
2000 and some years later, all I can say is AMEN! Lately I’ve been feeling forgotten. Like what happened to the promises God has given to me? If He hasn’t forgotten, surely He’s at least put me on hold, and I am so tired of listening to the elevator music.
I am all too familiar with anguish in my soul and sorrow in my heart. My son has less than a year left in his chemo treatments. My whole being is struggling with this whole childhood leukemia scene. Seriously, I just want to wake up from this nightmare, but every morning I find myself in the same space. I have amazing friends, who love and support our family, but the health challenges which have plagued my family these past 3 years feels like an enemy with an upper hand for sure!
These verses so well describe where I’m at in my life right now. Although they don’t seem particularly worshipful, I think they are. What makes them worship is the heart. King David is being so honest. He’s trusting God with his innermost thoughts. Authentic worship lays it all on the altar, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The next stanza, turns up the heat just a bit:
3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
I read these words imagining King David doing a bit more than yelling. Now he’s pacing. Maybe even throwing his fist towards heaven. God, I’m dying down here! Don’t you see that? I love the phrase, “restore the sparkle to my eyes.” King David knows that there have been better times before. He knows that God is a God of restoration. These words, though they might sound angry or fearful, are also filled with deep confidence in God.
2000 and some years later I’ve found myself in some circumstances where it’s hard to express who I am. I’m feeling like I’m not accepted the way I am, and there are expectations that I would be someone I’m not. Just this week I cried out, “I feel like I’m dying.” Many of my prayers recently have been focused on joy and restoration. My prayers haven’t sounded eloquent and beautiful. They’ve been desperate as I have begged God to give me back the joy I’ve lost. Remember that we are worshipping today? Often times we expect worship to be filled with flowery words, but God doesn’t live in empty praises. God lives in our hearts, even when they’re broken.
Let’s check out the final stanza in this Psalm:
5 But I trust in your unfailing
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.
Whoa! Wait a minute!! Are you scratching your head right now? I mean really, there was no transition, no explanation, or anything between verse four and five. How is it possible to go from pacing the floors to this? Friends, I think these two little verses contain one of the greatest pictures of faith that I can find throughout the scripture. I don’t imagine that King David’s circumstances have changed so quickly as it seems when we read these verses together. Instead it seems to me that King David is declaring the victory He does not yet have. I will rejoice, I will sing. Not only is he declaring the victory, but he is choosing to celebrate it.
2000 and some years later, I am choosing to celebrate the victory God HAS given to me over my past, my present, and my future.
Nothing can hold me back from worshipping him because I know, that I Know, that I KNOW that God is not defined by my circumstances! God is defined only by His word about Himself. Now watch this:
John 1:1 says:
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
John 1:14 says:
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Despair and grief and trauma will tell me all sorts of things about God, but faith says listen to His word. Believe in his word. When I take a peek at his words, I see a tiny baby boy laying in a feeding trough for animals outside because there is no room for him inside. It’s easy to miss the wonder and amazement at first glance, oh but then I look again! I see a king who created all the world. I see a king who was dissatisfied with the glory and comfort of heaven because he just wanted to be with his creation. I see a king who left that glory behind and came to a lowly, stinky place to meet me in my filth. I hope you can see that too!
Jesus, the JESUS, in the manager IS God’s word! He is the savior that the shepherds worshipped. He is also the King who has already defeated every enemy in my life. He has given me victory over all my troubles. I may not always feel that victory, but I can walk out my life in faith, KNOWING, I have that victory. Sometimes faith is an uphill battle, sometimes it’s smooth sailing.
As you draw closer to Christmas day, you might find that it’s easy to worship. You might find that it’s hard to worship. Friends, authentic worship will happen when you take your heart in whatever condition you have it and bring it to God and have faith that He hears you and sees you and loves you.
We love you. We need you. This life on its own is too difficult for us, but with you we have hope in our future. Father, would you revive our hearts with your Holy Spirit? Would you sweep out more space for you to live inside of us? Please grant us with the faith to know that we are victorious because you have rescued us from all our troubles. Father please also place a song in our hearts, as you did in King David, so we may sing of your unfailing love to others!