Each month, usually on the first Wednesday of the month, the church I attend (#NewLifeChurch) has a service dedicated only to worshipping God. I love all of the services at this church, and as much as I am enriched by the preaching in the “regular” Sunday services, I have to say that these worship services are my favorites.
In our most recent “First Wednesday” service, our senior pastor (#BradyBoyd) got up to welcome everyone after we had completed the first couple of songs. As he was speaking to us briefly, he observed how challenging it can be to come to church at the end of a busy workday and shift your mindset away from the day’s struggles. It’s tough sometimes to get into it, to really focus on worshipping God.
He said that when that happens to him, he just keeps singing until he means it, until the words he’s singing are true.
I wrote a blog post along these lines in July 2022 called “Feelings Follow Faithfulness“. It’s the same idea–show up, and the feelings will follow. Or, as the famous theologian (NOT), screenwriter, and director Woody Allen said, “Showing up is 80% of life”.
I imagine that King David must have dealt with this sometimes. Even though he was a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22), he must have had days when he struggled to feel God’s presence. After all, there were periods in his life when people close to him were trying to kill him (first, King Saul; then later, David’s son Absolom). I can see how this would make you wonder–even if just for a moment–if God had abandoned you.
It makes sense when you consider how many times in the psalms that David wrote, he laments about what’s happening to him. He seems sad, confused, even distraught. But then, even after those melancholy words, he has a way of turning his psalms into songs of praise. He often seems to echo the words of Habakkuk:
It’s easy to imagine these guys struggling to praise God on the bad days they surely experienced. And yet, clearly, in the end they managed to do just that, to praise their Creator in the midst of chaos or disaster.
Maybe it is David’s ability to do this that led to him becoming a man after God’s own heart.
Because here’s the thing: when we make ourselves available to God, he begins working in us and through us whether we feel it or not. When we praise him even in times when we don’t feel like it, we are reminding ourselves of God’s loving presence, of his unfailing love. We begin to direct our minds and hearts to focus on the many blessings he gives us. Blessings we don’t deserve. We remember how great our God is. We are reminded of the incredible sacrifice he made for us.
And after a few songs like that, you can’t help but be engulfed in his presence, wrapped in his strong and loving arms. And before you even realize it’s happening, you mean the words you’re singing.