The church of Jesus Christ is called to be a singing people. The Bible is a book filled with songs of worship, praise, contemplation, and even lament. As I said yesterday, I doubt any typical churchgoer would argue this fact. Yet some folks are simply too uncomfortable or unwilling to sing along. My goal is not to force people to sing against their will, but I would like to address an issue that often stands in the way of Christians singing worship songs in church...
A common objection I hear from folks these days is that they are going through a tough season in their life, and they really aren’t in the mood to sing along during our time of worship. First, let me just say that I get that. In times of severe grief or depression, we may not even feel we have the physical strength to sing during our gatherings. And while I would never take a hard line stance on trying to force people to sing when they really don’t want to, let me just say a few words in response to this objection.
In Scripture, we see the saints of God singing praises to Him in some very difficult seasons. The Psalms are filled with songs written in very difficult circumstances. Oftentimes you can almost feel the tension within the heart of the Psalmist as he is hurting or scared, but then he lifts eyes to heaven and remembers the God who rescues, saves and redeems. Consider this passage from Psalm 42:9-11:
I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”
Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
In this passage, the Psalmist is very open about the fact the He is hurting and doubting the presence of God in His life. Yet look at His resolution at the end of the Psalm, “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him.” I believe that some of the most powerful times of worship in our lives flow out of our deepest suffering, when we are reaching out for the comfort that comes from God alone. Jesus sang a hymn with his disciples just after telling them about His looming death and right before He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul and Silas sang hymns together after being beaten and while they were languishing in a Philippian jail.
We do not worship a God who is detached from our suffering or simply doesn’t care about the hardships in our lives. In fact, Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be “a man of suffering” and “acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53). The author of Hebrews tells us:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
Worship allows us the great privilege of getting our eyes off of our circumstances, and onto the God who sees and knows and longs to comfort His people. I truly believe that through worship, God can bring healing, peace, clarity, vision and so much more into our lives. So when we gather on Sunday or Wednesday, let us sing together. Let us glorify in unison the God who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. Let us praise the name of the only one who deserves all the glory and honor and power. Let His kingdom come and let His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Remembering that heaven is the place where praises continually pour forth upon the Lamb that was slain.