The Gigantic Hole in Our Worship

I was recently at a worship gathering where one of the speakers said something like, “If you’re struggling with depression, when you meet Jesus he’ll take it away.” This bothered me for several reasons. Mainly, it bothered me because it just isn’t true.

courtesy of

courtesy of

Maybe it’s not accurate to say “It’s not true.” It may be true for some people. But, it’s definitely not universally true. On that night, there were at least a few fully committed followers of Jesus there that have struggled with depression.

As a minister, I have the privilege of talking with people through some of the most difficult seasons of life. Sadly, I’ve heard plenty of people say that church is the hardest place to be after a loss. Why is this?

I think this perception reveals a gigantic hole in our worship. Largely, it’s based on a false premise. Here it is: you have to be really happy to worship God.

I can think of at least three reasons why this perspective is lacking… 

1. It’s Not Biblical

Jesus once described his feelings this way: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). What did he do with those feelings of sorrow? He prayed (Matthew 26:39). Jesus experienced intense sorrow and still prayed. 

Or, think about these words from King David…

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart” (Psalm 13:1-2)? 

These words aren’t out of the ordinary. In fact, roughly 1/3 of the Psalms are about incredibly difficult times.  

Life is hard. No one can escape this fact. We need songs and prayers for these seasons. The Psalms help us communicate to God during the most difficult times of life.

2. It’s Not Authentic

It’s worth repeating…life is hard. So, why would we show up every Sunday and act like it isn’t?

Almost all of the Bible is God’s word to people. But, in the Psalms, we have people’s words to God. The Psalms give us permission to be completely authentic in our communication to God.

Sometimes life is great. The Psalms give us words to use during these seasons. Sometimes life is miserable. The Psalms give us authentic words for these times, too.

People need words that help them worship during every season of life.

3. It’s Not Helpful

Clearly, there are times when celebrating God in a corporate gathering is appropriate. Praising God in the middle of tragedy is also important. I don’t want to minimize that.

But, we need a worship spectrum that’s broad enough to cover the various life experiences we all face.

God’s will for all believers is to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in every circumstance (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We need a variety of songs and prayers that help us do that.

If you’re struggling, I hope you won’t feel guilty. I hope you don’t feel like something is wrong with you. But, I hope you’ll find a way to worship in the middle of what you’re going through.

What has helped you to worship God during difficult seasons? I’d love to know your thoughts! Get the conversation going by leaving a comment below.

  9 comments for “The Gigantic Hole in Our Worship

  1. Judy Tuttle
    March 14, 2016 at 8:54 am

    There is a difference between “situational” depression, the kind of depression that comes from dealing with life circumstances, a divorce, a loss of a child, or financial difficulties, and “Clinical” depression which lasts a lifetime and has no particular life event that spun a person out of control. As a person that struggles with ‘clinical anxiety/depression’ I have cried tears over the fact that God has not taken this away from me. I have suffered through the many well-meaning Christians that have said, “Just give it to God” and “Where is your faith?” Clinical depression needs medication or therapy to help. Situational depression can be helped with God. A Relationship with can big help with situational depression because Jesus offers a hope like no other. But it is not a cure=all! Thanks Neil! I love this post!

    • Neil
      March 14, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Hey, Judy! Thanks for chiming in and for sharing honestly. Katie and I love and appreciate you so much. You’re a great example of walking with God through all circumstances. I can’t wait to see you guys again!

    • Scott Lambert
      March 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Judy, your comments are exactly right and very powerful. Thank you. I have become so weary and tired of the “just give it to Jesus” comments. Yes, of course, give it to Jesus. He didn’t promise to take away the anxiety. Thank you for being bold in giving us these deep, Godly insights. You and Jim are deeply loved….Scott

  2. Zac George
    March 14, 2016 at 9:52 am

    This is great! I know, for me, some of my most authentic worship has been in my hardest times. I think it’s important for those of us that lead worship to be transparent and real with our own emotions (in a healthy way) as we lead others. Thanks for posting.

  3. Kat Kroeker
    March 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

    This is awesome Neil. Honestly, this post has given me a new insight with my prayer. I have family and friends that suffer with depression and I have always wondered why prayer hasn’t just fixed it why God has taken it away. Through this lost, and Mrs. Judy’s comment, it makes more sense and I have a new perspective. Thanks.

  4. Stacy Peters
    March 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks, Neil, for your thoughts. I’ve been a worship leader for many years. I have always expressed it this way, “We come together to worship and praise as an act of the will. We do not worship God out of our feelings,or circumstance. We worship God for who He is, and declare the great deeds He has done. We also do what Jesus said, “Come to me, you who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

    • Neil
      March 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      That’s spot on!

  5. Jean ( Peters ) Cobb
    March 15, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for your wise & useful statements’,I hope they are helpful to a lot of people.I am Stacy Peters mother,I recently read an article you wrote for the Pleasant Valley church bulletin that was good,,too.keep up the good work.

    • Neil
      March 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      Wow. It’s great to hear from you! I’d love to meet you face to face sometime. Thank you for reading!

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