Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Worship when things go wrong

It's been a few weeks between posts, which is unusual for me, but it's because I wanted to get a good run at putting into practice what I wrote in my previous post before adding something new. And as I write this, the theme of worship is still on my mind. Perhaps many who take a first glance at these posts on worship will feel they already have these issues settled in their lives and needn't read on. But as I was reading Job 1 recently, it became very clear to me that they weren't settled in my life.

You probably already know something of the story of Job and of how he experienced immense tragedies in his life as his children and all he owned were lost to him. His response astounds me, and here's how I'd sum up how Job responded to the death of his children and of all his livestock: God can be God and do whatever He chooses. Job 1:20 says that he "fell on the ground and worshiped" rather than curse God. Job uttered that famous phrase: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). In other words, God can do whatever He wants. Blessed be His name.

Is that how I respond to difficulties? Is my response to worship God? Often not. The troubles I've been through have been extremely tiny compared to what Job faced, and even then, my response has not always been to worship God. In fact, I can get in a snit with God if I have an unexpected car repair as well as a small appliance stop working both in the same week. And self-pity and anger can mingle together as I moan about how bad-off I am because a computer goes on the fritz. This is evident by how I've handled what's come up in the past few weeks, during which a series of very minor (and very fixable) things went wrong in our house as if God was setting me up to see what would proceed from my heart. A toaster suddenly stopped working, then a shower drain was found to be leaking into the room beneath it, then a tap started dripping, then an air compressor quit working, then our new van's radio wouldn't work, and then we found our furnace wasn't turning on in the increasingly cold nights. What next? And I'm sad to say that in the midst of such a short sequence of minor events, my responses weren't as exemplary as how Job responded to much graver circumstances. Instead of worship proceeding from my heart, there were groans and gripes, some of them directed upward.

But as I considered Job (the way Satan himself was invited to do in Job 1:8), I was provoked to wonder -- how shallow is my worship of the God I profess to trust so much? How feeble is it if it can be disrupted by such simple challenges? Is my worship actually dependent on things going smoothly -- at least to a certain degree -- in my life? Do I require blessings from God before I bow to God? I certainly hope not! But that's what my response to my circumstances suggests.

A true test of my worship is how willing am I to bow down and bless God whatever the circumstances? And as I examine the place of worship in my life these days, I need to check my heart every time troubles come my way. Each time I do, I will need God's grace to respond in worship to the God who is Lord over every difficulty I face.

© 2010 by Ken Peters

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