Posted on Monday, Apr 12, 2021 by Scott Savage
Do you ever wake up and struggle out of bed in order to workout?
Ever open up a restaurant menu to order a healthy option only to order an entire day's worth of calories in one meal?
Have you ever pulled your phone out to accomplish one specific task only to find yourself scrolling Instagram aimlessly an hour later?
Me too. I’ve experienced all of these. My intentions and feelings didn’t always lead to the most healthy outcome.
I’ve talked to so many people who have this same experience when it comes to worship.
We don’t always feel like worshiping, myself included. Whether it’s singing during a church service, listening to and meditating on the words of a worship song in my car, or simply turning my heart to God, I convince myself that I can skip worship because my heart simply isn’t in it.
These moments often come when I’m in a dark place or a difficult experience. I don’t feel like I’m on top of a mountain with outstretched arms in victory; I feel like I’m in a dark valley with slumped shoulders in defeat.
However, as I read through the Psalms last year, I was reminded that worship isn’t dependent on our circumstances or our feelings.
In Psalm 62, David comes to God feeling lonely, vulnerable, and in danger. “So many enemies against one man— all of them trying to kill me. To them, I'm just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts.”
In Psalm 73, Asaph comes to God battling doubt and disillusionment. “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.”
In the book of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul tells us about 3 daily habits that are God’s will for us in all circumstances. “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
According to David and Paul, worship isn’t dependent on where we are or how we are feeling. We can always worship!
If that’s a new or difficult idea for you to wrap your head around, I encourage you to get a physical copy of the Bible. Open to the Psalms and re-familiarize yourself with the direct, honest, and emotional language in the middle of God’s word. Within the first few pages or minutes, you are going to see some of the same feelings in your heart in black and white.
Since this kind of worship doesn’t come naturally or easily to many of us, here are three places you can get started. Consider these baby steps or preparation for worshiping in the valley.
1. Talk to your soul as much as you listen to it. We spend all day listening to and responding to the feelings and emotions coming from within us. What if we talked to ourselves as much as we listened? Three times in Psalm 42 and 43, the psalmist writes, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!” This practice moves us from passivity to proactivity.
What if instead of being led by our emotions, we led our emotions? Brandon Lake’s new song, "Gratitude," expresses this kind of self-direction. “So come on, my soul Oh, don't you get shy on me. Lift up your song”
RELATED CONTENT: “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake
2. Practice the 5-minute rule. Instead of committing to worshiping for a long period of time, what if you made a small commitment? Give yourself an out. If after five minutes you feel like stopping the time of worship, you can.
Sometimes, we appreciate the experience once we're in it. We often forget about those moments in the past where we were so glad, we did something we initially resisted doing. We think our mood prevents something from being meaningful when our mood can change in a matter of minutes amid an experience.
3. Build a library or playlist BEFORE you need it. I don't know you, but I can promise that you will have moments this year where you don't feel like worshiping. You'll be in situations where you think worship is inappropriate or impossible.
Knowing those are coming, what if you opened your Bible and your Notes app, to make a list of Psalms that apply different experiences or struggles. On that same note or in your favorite music app, what if you made a playlist of songs that share important reminders or which you've had significant experiences within the past?
If you’re in a difficult spot or processing dark emotions, I want to encourage you today. You might not feel like you can worship now, but followers of Jesus have worshiped in the darkest of times and amidst the deepest of doubts. We can worship ALWAYS, no matter the circumstances. Worship isn’t just for the mountaintops; worship is one of the best responses to the valleys, too.
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the coolest 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 helps hurting people forgive others through his Free to Forgive course and you can read more of his writing at scottsavagelive.com