When Worship is Difficult

It all started with a song. One inspired by Psalm 118. One Sunday morning in church, probably in late August when I had all but given up. Somewhere in the middle of singing praises to the Lord, this song started. I know it was in the middle because I was already standing and then the weight of it all hit me, and I just couldn’t any more.

🎶Oh, give thanks to the Lord

Oh give thanks to the Lord

For He is good

He is good

For He is good

He is good, oh

His steadfast love endures

Forever, forever He endures 🎶

You can listen to the song here : Psalm 118 (Your Steadfast Love)

The truth of this washed over me as tears fell to the ground. I didn’t want to believe it in my heart, because I had felt that He was everything but good at that moment. But my head knew it was true. His Spirit inside nudged me along. And I sang, though I was angry and hurt and broken. And when I couldn’t manage that for the tears, I mouthed the words. No one could hear them, but I was declaring the truth to the One who is Truth itself. It was my sacrifice of praise. While I didn’t want to acknowledge Him at all, it was really the only thing I could do.

If we praise God only when we’re getting what we want, how is He different from a genie in a magic lamp? His love for us is unconditional, and what’s more, He is God. That fact alone deems Him worthy of worship. Always.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    bring an offering and come before him!

Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth;

    yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

    and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

~1 Chronicles 16:29-31

This is not easy. It’s not easy to worship God when you feel unseen by Him. Or when you can’t help but think He’s holding out on you. We all have ups and downs. Times when we feel super close with our Lord and times when we distance ourselves. But He stays the same. He doesn’t change. He sees our struggles and heartache. He sees our success and joy. None of our circumstances can change who God is and so our worship of Him should remain steady through it all.

A few months later, probably some time in November (after we knew I was pregnant), we sang the same song again. As the words began I couldn’t help but cry. Not out of brokenness this time, but because I knew, with all my being, the truth and grace in the words. He was good to me and His love endured. Through all my craziness. Through all my doubts. And sorrow. And questioning. How could I have ever thought differently? I praised Him for His providence in it all; not knowing the reasoning behind it, but grateful that He did.

I don’t know where you are, dear friend. You may be high on a mountain or low in a valley. Know this truth, wherever you find yourself; God is God and He is good. Always.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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Thankfulness: Day 30

Well, this was an interesting experiment. I did not keep a perfect record of writing every day, but I did make it a point to think about something I was thankful for each day.

After a season of not really being sure what there was to be thankful for this was a really good exercise.

Today it was more of the simple things. We’ve had various commitments in the evenings for the past few days and tonight we got to just hang out, which included breakfast for dinner, pj’s by 6, and watching a movie. I’m thankful for this relaxing evening at home.

I’m also thankful that tomorrow is December 1st & Christmas preparations will begin. We’ll tidy up so we can put up the tree. I’ll soon be baking up a storm to have a supply on hand for Christmas parties, gifts for friends and neighbors, and just because. Most importantly, though, is the preparation inside myself. Preparation to celebrate the coming of the Lord. The preparation of remembering what He left behind to come into the world as a totally dependent baby. All to bring the Father glory and restore a right relationship between us and Him.

I pray, as the season of Advent begins, you, too, will take time to prepare. Not so much with gifts and cookies and decorations (though those are all well and good), but with remembering the reason behind it all. The glorious miraculous birth of the One who will make all things new.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 29

Tonight I went to a mosaic class with my mother-in-law. There were just 6 of us there, plus the teacher, and everyone’s project looked so different despite the fact that we all were working with the same base and materials.

I am so thankful and in awe of the creative process and how everyone approaches it differently.

When I think about the oh so many art forms out there (and I’m sure there are some I don’t know about) I’m overwhelmed by it all. That two people could see a sunset or perhaps a snowy lane and respond so differently. The scene could be painted or written about in numerous ways. You could choose to photograph it, weave a story of it, create a melody from the emotion it brings forth, cook something delicious based on a memory brought about by it. The possibilities are endless.

And when you think about it, can you really be surprised? With a Creator Who fashioned those sunsets. Who designed such creatures as jellyfish and moose and hummingbirds. Who created us in His very image (and how very different are we, even when just looking at us, not to mention adding in our personalities?).

I’m just so grateful that we have so many ways with which to praise Him and all He has done, created, promised.

I hope you have found at least one way to express your gratitude, friend. A way which you can bring glory and honor to our Maker Who so rightfully deserves it.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 18

Creation resounds with praise to the King.

Without voice, of His glories it sings.

Sky and wind and tree and brook,

They all partake in, they cannot forsake Him.

While we sleep, it does not rest.

The stars take up their unending quest

To bring praise and honor to the Lord.

While we think of ourselves great,

We are really quite small,

In comparison to this celestial ball

As it makes its way around the sun.

He made it all, so of Him it tells.

Let us sit, and listen a spell,

As creation sings praise to the King.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 17

I am not really the sort of person who sets up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. It’s rare that I’ll listen to Christmas music before then either. There is one Christmasy thing I do enjoy before Thanksgiving has had its day, though.

One word.

Shoeboxes.

If you’ve never heard of Operation Christmas Child, I highly encourage you to check it out. This organization collects shoeboxes filled with gifts and distributes them to children around the world. More importantly, though, is the fact that the Gospel goes with it. Each child who receives a box is also taught about Christ and many take part in a longer program to learn more. The gift acts as a physical representation of God’s love.

Think about it. What would you think if you received a gift from someone across the world who didn’t even know you? Surely there is another power at work here. I challenge you to go to the site and watch some videos of adults who received boxes as children and then try to tell me that’s not true. God uses unusual means to get His message across; I believe this is one of them.

Today I am thankful for this ministry and getting to be a part of it. At my previous church I organized our participation in this project and even got to volunteer at one of the processing centers. This year I got to organize the packing party at our current church. This morning members gathered with items they bought to pack their shoeboxes and write notes to the children who would be receiving them. It’s just so neat to see the love of Christ at work in people’s lives; especially when they are passing it along to others.

While Monday is the last day to take shoeboxes to a local drop off location, you can still build a shoebox online.

Whatever you may do to celebrate this holiday season, I pray part of it includes sharing what blessings you’ve received with those less fortunate. Take some time to spread good news with great joy.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 8

Since yesterday I’ve had the hymn “Sweet Hour of Prayer” stuck in my head. I found it ironic, because if I were to add up my prayer time for the month so far, I might get up to 30 minutes.

This has been something I’ve been struggling with for some time; finding taking the time to spend with my God. To cry out to Him. To call upon His strength. To repent and ask His forgiveness. To praise Him for His many blessings.

And then this songs pops into my head. And I suggest it as one we use to open our LifeGroup tonight. It reminds me that I can leave it all with Him. All my worries, sorrows, pain. And I can find rest there.

So today I am thankful for two things: these songs that were written to remind us of Truth when we’ve forgotten; and a God Who is always ready to listen when we come to Him.

Oh that I would remember that daily and put it into practice. I hope you’re able to do the same.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Thankfulness: Day 4

Today I am thankful for the community of faith where the Lord has placed me. I have not been a part of this church for very long (a couple years), but this family is one I am ever grateful for; a place I can go to be renewed by the Word and worship the Lord.

Here I find likeminded people who aren’t just a part of a Sunday morning tradition, but are part of my life. We stay connected through the week, encourage each other, speak truth to each other, mourn & rejoice with each other.

There is a reason we are instructed to gather regularly as the Body of Christ; this whole being set apart from the word thing isn’t easy on ones own. But with Brothers & Sister by your side, to remind you of the Lord’s promises when you’ve forgotten or to tell you, in love, the sin they see present in your life when your eyes are closed to it, it’s definitely more manageable.

I cannot fully put into words the great effect my various church families have had on my life; from helping grow my faith and teaching God’s Word, to countless discussions on salvation, singleness, infertility and prayer upon prayer. By the grace of God, these people have been used by Him to draw me deeper to Himself and there isn’t gratitude enough in my heart to say just what it means. I only hope that I never turn from opportunities the Lord puts in front of me to do the same.

Have you such a community, friends? I pray you do. And if not, I pray for wisdom and guidance that you may find one.

Love & Blessings,

KJ