What does this look like to you?

“You need to tell your followers to knock that loud worship off. They’re making a scene.” 

In their arrogance, the religious elite actually said something just like  that to Jesus . . . and His response was beautiful:

“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” 

hills-mountains-nature-685-621x350Imagine! If we as human beings never again expressed worship to Christ, nature would do it for us. One look at the Grand Canyon (or the tulips this time of year in the Midwest) would convince you of that. He is always worthy of adoration and if we don’t do it, the trees and oceans (and rocks) will.

Reveling in the beauty of creation as God’s handiwork for sure looks like worship.

I have a friend who, though not a “religious person”, thrills to the beauty of sacred music and loves to sing as part of a traditional choir. To her, the blend of the different voices enriches the sound and creates its own beauty.

If you ask her, she would tell you music is itself a form of worship. Who could disagree with that?

It’s natural to be moved to praise God as you walk through a park on a beautiful day or when you’re surrounded by others holding hymnals or following lyrics on a screen. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about how worship is expressed in the hard things.

Do pain, suffering, and tears look like worship opportunities to you? Cause for begging, pleading, groveling prayers, maybe . . . but worship?

I listened to a podcast not long ago in which the person being interviewed emphasized the importance of having a “discerning filter”. In context, he was talking about how overwhelming the news coverage is these days. His suggestion was to limit your exposure to things you can do nothing about.

As one of those people who gets undone by endless reports of sadness and cruelty, I totally get the “limiting” idea as a form of discernment when engaging with the media.

But not when it comes to worship.

For me, having a discerning filter where worship is concerned means intentionally looking for opportunities to credit God for His goodness where there appears to be none.

Here’s a glimpse through that filter:

The young worship pastor at my church is struggling with hearing loss in one ear as a result of a virulent strain of strep. He is grappling with the possibility that his condition could be permanent – a devastating outcome for anyone; unthinkable for a musician. Yet he has chosen to focus on God’s past faithfulness and constant goodness, no matter what. His perseverance and trust in the face of pain and uncertainty has already sparked a profound appreciation for God’s power from our entire congregation. I call that worship in the truest sense.

Some years ago, I had a close family member who was desperately ill. Concern gripped my life for a long season. The song, “Blessed Be Your Name”, became a kind of sound track that helped me cope, especially this verse: “Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering; though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.” I had to remind myself every day: Whatever comes, His name is to be blessed. It was hard. Allowing suffering to point to God had to be a choice. In my mind, that’s worship.

Maybe you’re a person whose personal prayer life is punctuated by tears, like mine. As I pray for my family, my friends, and myself, my emotions frequently overflow. But as I wrestle, remember, and ultimately relinquish my burdens, I realize that the offering of my tears is a form of worship that God treasures. Can tears be something you sacrifice on the altar of worship?

It’s challenging to see God in the difficult circumstances. Sometimes what has to pass for worship in the moment might be little more than a sigh of acknowledgement that He is with us, even when we don’t sense Him.

That’s a sweet sacrifice of praise right there. And that’s worship.

You give and take away; my heart will choose to say, “Lord, blessed be Your name”.


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About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

2 thoughts on “What does this look like to you?”

  1. Thanks for this thoughtful post. It calls to mind the often forgotten mode of worship in the Bible in the psalms of lament. They really speak to our hearts, and speak of God who meets us in so many ways, including the hard bits of life.

    1. Thank you for mentioning the psalms of lament. You’re right, they do speak so clearly to our hearts. God always meets us right where we are, even if (perhaps especially if) we’re in a tough place. The Psalms remind us of that. He is our one constant.

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