Posted on Sunday, Aug 16, 2020 by Scott Savage
late last year, I had a panic attack.
My heart raced. I couldn’t focus.
I had to leave the gym literally in the middle of a workout. It was a struggle to drive home. I sat in the garage for a long time, trying to collect myself and come back to normal.
It wasn’t my first panic attack, and it likely won’t be my last. The panic attack was triggered by a feeling of being out of control. I had gotten some bad news, or rather, I got a message which led me to believe I was about to get some bad news. Flooded with a range of emotions (anxiety, failure, shame, uncertainty, insecurity), I felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. My heart raced. I struggled to focus. I reached out to friends, hoping they might be able to reassure me and calm me down. I used a number of coping mechanisms. I even visited my counselor that day. Thank God for a previously scheduled appointment aligning with the panic attack.
But if I’m really honest with you, I went through a long list of coping mechanisms before I came to God. Prayer wasn’t the first thing I did - it was barely in the top 10. Worship missed the top 10 entirely. I didn’t worship my way through it. I panicked and freaked out my way through it. (I know that isn’t proper grammar, but it’s an accurate description.)
What about you? When’s the last time you were overwhelmed?
Did it take you as long to get around to worship as it did me?
Earlier this month, we talked about what it looks like to worship through hard times. You shared some awesome ideas for how you worship through it.
Your ideas reminded me of a passage hidden in the Old Testament. In 2 Chronicles 20, we read about the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites coming up to attack King Jehosophat and the people of Judah. Unlike other kings before him, Jehosophat was a godly king who sought to lead in righteousness and holiness.
Faced with incredible opposition, Jehosophat gathered a large assembly and called for a fast among the entire nation. Near the end of his recorded prayer in 2 Chronicles 20, he utters words we all need to utter today. “We do not know what to do, but we are looking to You for help.”
Instead of looking to God in worship, we often take another path.
Some of us try to control the uncontrollable. We obsess over insignificant details and control the people around us in an attempt to feel in control of something in our lives.
Others of us become over-responsible. We work even harder or even longer. We take on too much and try to do more than we can in one area because we’re frustrated about the area where we don’t know what to do. We end up running on empty, possibly burning out.
Yet still others of us seek to fill up on things which don’t truly satisfy. Like a snack or dessert, which offers us empty calories, we seek to fill the void created by our anxiety with things that don’t actually fill us in any lasting way. We spend money shopping online. We binge watch another series. We finish off an entire bag of chips. But by the time we’re finished, we don’t feel any better.
What if we worshiped through the overwhelmingness of life instead?
Instead of seeking to control the uncontrollable, what if we paused and surrendered? I use an app that reminds me to pause every day at 10am and 2pm. The app leads me through a 3-5-minute prayer of surrender, where I literally unclench my fists so I can offer everyone and everything I'm carrying to God.
Instead of being over-responsible and running on empty, what if we stopped and listened to God? A lot of us have taken up walking this year. After being cooped up inside all spring, we’re enjoying the fresh air. Instead of taking headphones on your next walk, what if you left them at home and embraced the quiet, so you can listen?
Instead of filling up on things which only leave us emptier, what if we looked to the source of ultimate soul satisfaction? We can and should name the deepest longings of our hearts. But we need to take them to the One who knows them better than anyone else; the One and only One who can fulfill them in a lasting way.
Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that he had “living water,” and if she drank from it, she would never be thirsty again. Both the woman at the well and people today who are “thirsty” look for the right thing, ultimate satisfaction, in the wrong place. Jesus is worthy of our worship because He is the right place to look for the right thing.
I love the opening lines of Jonathan Traylor’s song, “You Get the Glory.” He writes,
Life often brings us to our knees. This can be a position of despair, or one of worship. The question we must answer is, will being in a position to worship lead us to actually pursue worship? Will we worship through it, trusting that God will get the glory, and we will find the strength we need?
Jehosophat’s calling of the people to prayer and fasting and his honest words are where I want to be. I’m not there but I want to be there.
where are you today?
Do you not know what to do? Then look to God for help!
Worship Him as you walk through your own moment of desperation.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer who believes he has the best last name ever. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona. Scott is married to Dani and they are the parents of three “little savages.” He is the creator of the Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com.