I’ve been talking and reading a lot lately about worry and praying, and how that affects our worship (everyday living).
I was drawn to this passage of scripture in Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
With the events that have taken place over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself weary and drained, both physically and emotionally. Have you ever experienced such intense grief that you didn’t think you were ever going to experience the joy you once had, in the same way again? Has there ever been a time in your life where you were so depleted of strength because all you did was worry, which caused you to not want to get out of bed? Or have you ever been in a place, after you have given so much of yourself, that now you are left feeling weary and faint and you want to give up?
The good news is that we have a God who never runs out of strength, and who never leaves us or forsakes us!
Let me share something from author, Alex Seeley, “The Opposite Life,” as she recounted something that happened in her life.
I remember when I was 29 years of age, and my cousin who was also my age and my very best friend overdosed and died suddenly. I couldn’t believe it. How could this happen? I had prayed for her life for decades… and I was believing with my whole heart that she would get well, and she was seemingly on the road to recovery.
This was not supposed to happen.
I will never forget the day I found out. I was on tour with my husband leading worship with our church, and receiving that phone call shattered my heart into a million pieces. There I was on the other end of the phone, hearing words that were too difficult to process. I dropped the phone and began to weep uncontrollably as I fell into my husband’s embrace. I wept for hours and could not stop. It felt like I had cried out every tear I had in my body.
As we continued to drive to the venue in which we were about to lead a worship night, for the church that were eagerly anticipating to encounter God, I couldn’t think of anything further from worship that I felt like doing in that moment. I was worried about my family, her family and everything else that comes with sudden shock. I was overwhelmed with disappointment and I had so many questions that I felt I would never have the answer to.
My leader reached out to me and said that I can totally sit this one out, considering the circumstances, and I was relieved. How was I going to be able to do anything with this grief that felt like a thousand bricks piled up on my chest? I couldn’t breathe and I felt so overwhelmed with grief. I made plans to leave on the next flight out to be home with my family, but there were no flights until the morning.
I remember sitting in the church staring into nothing and crying out in my heart to God, “What am I supposed to do now?” I remember sensing in my heart these words, “Alex, I need you to sing tonight.” “Sing!” I thought to myself, I can’t even stand up, let alone sing, but I kept sensing in my heart that this was what God wanted me to do to help me overcome. I remembered this scripture as I sat there contemplating how I would do this: Corinthians 12:9-10 –“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
I sensed God saying, “When you are weak, and you let My grace move through you, then you will be strong.” It made no sense to me in the natural, but I knew God enough to know that if a thought popped into my head that did not come from me, because it was the last thing I felt like doing, then it must be God and I should obey Him. I will never forget this night for as long as I live, because as soon as I got up to worship and began to sing, the heaviness that was covering me like a blanket, lifted off of me. I worshiped through my tears but I chose to sing anyway. It was like incense to the Lord.
It was my sacrifice of worship unto the Lord, and as I sang I felt His presence begin to carry me and give me the strength that I needed to face this season of grief. I can’t explain it, but the atmosphere in the room that night impacted the entire church. I had people come up to me afterwards weeping and saying that they also sensed God’s strength in the room. It’s not that I wasn’t sad, because I was. But His strength carried me supernaturally and I overcame my feeling of weakness in that moment.
That night taught me that His grace does have the power to carry us and give us the strength that we need when we are naturally depleted of it. The following week was the hardest week of my life, and yet I felt the strength of God propel me to lead and overcome the grief that I never thought I could. I learned to sing and worship the Creator — regardless of my circumstances, and allow Him to pour His grace into my situation and my heart, as I choose to lean on Him as I walk through hardships and difficulties. The circumstances didn’t change but I changed on the inside.
As I worshiped my way through the pain, I felt a peace that surpassed all natural understanding.
That was 16 years ago, and the same principal applies today. I have understood that life will not be perfect, but the One who has the power to carry us through the most difficult situations will enable us to overcome hardships and live with supernatural peace.
Think about this for a moment. Have you ever faced a heartbreaking crisis and felt God call you to worship through the heartbreak or worry? What happened? How did turning your face toward your loving Father change you?
Recall that time, and allow God to flood you with the knowledge of His love and grace that will fill you with His peace that passes ALL understanding!