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.
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.