When Suffering and Worship Collide

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The last few years have felt in many ways like being caught up in a tornado.  Spinning round and round, with no way to get out, yet debris keeps slamming into you and things and people you are emotionally tied to get ripped away…all at the same time.  Some of the things that are slamming against you are hard truths that you have conditioned yourself to ignore, like character flaws, poor boundaries, unhealthy habits, and poor discipline.  Some of things that you are clutching on to and end up being ripped away, taking a little flesh along with it, are those difficult to identify codependent relationships, a facade that you have allowed people to believe is really you.  But in the end, this is the journey of faith!

I have come to realize that my Father is less interested in my immediate feelings and more interested in refining me to be effective in His Kingdom. As Oswald Chambers says in his famous work My Utmost for His Highest, “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so you will never be surprised at what you come across.” And this truth is exactly where I have begun to discover that suffering and worship blur a little bit. “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)  When we are allowed to suffer a little bit (never fully understanding the sufferings of our Savior), when we experience that refiner’s fire, we begin to realize that worship is more of a lifestyle than an experience.

“Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose—all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.” – Archbishop William Temple

These past few years, I (along with my entire family) have experienced a lot of transition.  I have had relationships that I believed were healthy and beneficial be exposed for what they were; manipulative and selfish in many ways…leaving me wondering what in the hell just happened. I have struggled with self discipline; losing my love for running and spending quiet time with my Heavenly Father out on the roads.  This loss of discipline has caused an erosion of physical, mental, and spiritual health…

BUT, as I said before…through the challenges a new definition of worship has arose in my spirit.  I am learning to worship in everything I do, regardless of what it feels like.  Only when we begin to realize our Father is sovereign, can we embrace the difficult situations for what they are, and rest our forehead on His chest in humble thankfulness for the breaths we take.

In this journey of loss, change, and self-discovery, I have met friends who love me for who I am and have no agenda.  I have had friendships restored that I thought were lost forever.  I have discovered my love for running again.  I am gaining the discipline I lost.  I am surrounded by people who push me because they see the potential in me.  And, I am learning to worship Him in everything I do, with everything I am, with everything I have, every hour of the day.  I am convinced that only through pain, suffering, and discomfort can we even get the slightest glimpse of the love our Father has for us…the same love that drove Jesus in obedience and joy to the cross.  Only when we begin to understand that kind of love does worship become a way of life, not an experience.

Blessings…

Scott