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Worshiping in Sad Times is the Most Authentic Worship

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of heavenly forces!
My very being longs, even yearns, for the Lord’s courtyards.
My heart and my body will rejoice out loud to the living God!

Yes, the sparrow too has found a home there; the swallow has found herself a nest
where she can lay her young beside your altars, Lord of heavenly forces, my king, my God!
Those who live in your house are truly happy; they praise you constantly.

Those who put their strength in you are truly happy; pilgrimage is in their hearts.
As they pass through the Baca Valley, they make it a spring of water.
Yes, the early rain covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength, until they see the supreme God in Zion.
Lord God of heavenly forces, hear my prayer; listen closely, Jacob’s God!

Look at our shield, God; pay close attention to the face of your anointed one!
Better is a single day in your courtyards than a thousand days anywhere else!
I would prefer to stand outside the entrance of my God’s house than live comfortably in the tents of the wicked!
The Lord is a sun and shield; God is favor and glory.
The Lord gives—doesn’t withhold!—good things to those who walk with integrity.
Lord of heavenly forces, those who trust in you are truly happy!
-Psalm 84

Are you suffering?  Are you in exile?  Are you living in disappointment?  Has your world been turned upside down?  Are you bereaved?  Do you feel lost?  Are you on the outside?  Are you chased by depression?

Dwell with God.  Turn your heart toward home.  Refocus your desires.  Walk toward God.  Dwell with God where you are.  Worship God in your loss, your ruins, your dark day.  Worshiping in sad times is the most authentic worship.

We might think of worship as thanking God for the good things, the blessings.  "Thank you for the people in my life, the wealth, the food, the protection, the success.  Thank you, I am so thrilled Lord to have all this good from you.  Thanking you, I worship you for the comforts, the peace, the positives in my life; oh I praise you for these."

We might even weep tears of joy while we worship God, thanking him for his favor.  I shop and buy things I thank the Lord for.  I have many friends.  A few have not worked out, but many people like me.  I praise the Lord for this.  My children are growing up into God and serving the Lord.  I praise God for that.  I also praise God for good health and a happy marriage.

But what about when life is bad?  Cancer, divorce, lay-offs, war, poverty, betrayal, theft, death, loss, loneliness, interpersonal conflict, rejection, slander, and other disasters.  Can you worship when these are in your life?  Worshiping in sad times is the most authentic worship.

When we are on the outside of the good, in the midst of the bad, the right focus is on God.  Seek to dwell, then dwell with God.  Dwell with God, worship God in the crisis, in the loss, in the negative experience.  Worshiping God in the sad times is the most authentic worship.  Have you experienced the sacrifice of praise?  Do you present you body as a living sacrifice?

When you worship God, seek God, dwell with God; in the midst of your sadness, it is the most authentic worship because it is not about you.  Worship is always all about God, but when we are in loss, we recognize this more.

In all worship, we are saying, "more of you and less of me".  But, when things are good, we carnally take some of the credit for our blessings, thinking that we have received these blessings because of who we are, like we earned it or deserved it.  What a delusion!

Psalm 84 is about focus and direction and journey.  No matter what the disaster, I want to dwell with God.  God's dwelling can be found in the spirit, no matter what I am going through.  Distractions and mood altering addictive activities will not heal my heart, but only living in your presence will heal me.

Seek God, says David, the warrior.  David says that dwelling, seeking to dwell with God is a journey or pilgrimage.  We have to set our heart on going on that journey.  David says that the seekers who are journeyers are also weepers.  We must do our grief work.  Grieve your small and large losses.  Grieve it, grieve it, grieve it.

You are seeking, journeying, weeping & grieving; finding authentic worship.  You are walking through your valley and making it a place of springs.  You will find that it is true that when you draw near to God, God draws near to you.  You can see God's glory in your deepest wound and be dazzled (St. Augustine).

Worshiping God in sad times is the most authentic worship.  Welcome to the dwelling place of God, the place of healing and vision and life.


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