After being rebuked for committing adultery with Bathsheba and then taking her as his wife, David prayed, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your loving-kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).*
After hearing Shimei curse him as he left Jerusalem to escape his son Absalom, David said, “It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day” (2 Samuel 16:12).
After being sentenced to death for refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us. … But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
After learning of the Medes and Persians’ new decree prohibiting worship, Daniel prayed three times on his knees, “as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10).
After being swallowed by a whale, “Jonah prayed to the Lord his God” (Jonah 2:1).
After learning that God would use Babylon to punish Israel, Habakkuk prayed, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
Before his arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). One day later, on the cross Jesus cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
As he was being stoned, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. … Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:59-60).
After being arrested and thrown into a Philippian jail, during the night Paul and Silas began “praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25).
After being sentenced to the island of Patmos for his Christian testimony, John said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and I heard behind me a loud voice … saying, ‘I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last’” (Revelation 1:9-11).
Where is such worship today, such strong and deep faith? We like to sing “happy” songs in church, but they rarely include persecution, suffering, or death. Today’s Christian songs are too glib. They won’t sustain us in hard times or keep us through flood and fire (Isaiah 43:2).
I admire the worship leader at my church. He seems pure in heart. But this young man knows little about true worship. He prefers excitement over prayerful peace and depth. I don’t know what he’d do if a family member died suddenly, or if he were thrown into prison for his faith.
Praising God through a storm is true worship because God can sustain us through anything. That’s why he gives us “songs in the night” (Job 35:10, Psalm 42:8, 77:6). Do we believe it? Do some people look for excitement in Christian music because they know that when the music stops, they have no faith? Are they afraid to be alone with their true selves? I wonder.
What will happen in the weeks, months, and years ahead? What will the church here in America, and around the world, endure? I don’t know. But I hope she discovers true worship. Only strong and deep faith in God can sustain us, as “men’s hearts fail them from fear” (Luke 21:26).
I bless your name, I bless your name
I give you honor, give you praise
You are the life, the truth, the way
I bless your name, I bless your name
– Selah (YouTube)
* All Scripture verses are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.