Recently I had coffee with a gentleman interested in joining our worship team. I wanted to hear his story and hear what God had been doing in his life. As he began to share, I was stunned by the amount of pain he had endured in recent years. After twenty-five years of marriage, he lost his wife to a sudden and unexpected illness. For three months, he struggled to pull himself out of a deep valley of despair brought on by the tragic death of his life partner and best friend. For three months, he put down his instrument, having no desire to play.
One day, in desperation he grabbed his guitar, mustered up what little bit of energy and faith he had, turned on some worship music and began to play along. After a little while, the Holy Spirit began ministering to his heart while he worshiped and played before the Lord. The tears began to flow and the healing began to take place.
The discipline of praising in the valley is not popular teaching. Few of us want to face the reality that storms will come. But even fewer of us want to acknowledge that God wants us not simply to endure trial, but actually to worship through the midst of it.
David penned Psalm 57 in order to serve as a corporate worship song that would remind God's people to trust His sovereignty in the midst of trial and hardship. Set to the tune of "do not destroy," (an unknown melody) the psalm recounts David's personal suffering while fleeing for his life. “In the shadow of your wings,” David writes, “I will take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by” (v.1).
But what if they don’t? Or what if relief is so far out of our line of sight we can’t seem to comprehend it? That’s when we, in faith, ask God that our desire to see Him glorified would be greater than our desire for relief. “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth” (v.5).
Tim Keller writes, “Deeper than disaster, danger, and distress is the desire for God to be glorified. If that can be accomplished by saving us from our circumstances, then praise God! If it is better accomplished by our circumstances remaining unchanged while we continue to show our confidence in God before the watching world, praise God as well. Either way, God fulfills his purpose for you as you delight to honor Him.”
I don’t know your circumstance. I don’t know the pain you feel. But I know there is a long line of Christian heroes who have gone before you who not only endured enormous pain, but also praised their way through the pain and finished their race seeing God glorified in their suffering––men and women of whom the writer of Hebrews says, “the world was not worthy.”
Whatever you are enduring at this moment or will endure in future moments, refuse to let the enemy steal your confidence in Christ and his sovereignty. In your most difficult of moments, trust the facts rather than your feelings, and praise your way into a deeper level of confidence in Jesus.