By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
It’s easy to worship God when He’s blessing our lives, when things are going right, and when we’re all smiles. But when the bottom falls through and the storm hits, it appears to be a different story.
Whether your storm is a diagnosis that confirmed your fears, the spiritual rebellion of someone you love, a physical or financial disaster you can’t see a way out of, or just something you never anticipated would happen, God is still in control. Scripture tells us He is good and cannot act apart from His nature. So, you can grow—and flourish—in the storm if you choose to worship God through it.
Here are six ways to worship God—even in the storm:
1. Focus on Who God is, not on what He is or isn’t doing.
When we focus on the facts of Who God is, worship flows. He is compassionate, faithful, good, and upright (Psalm 25:6-8). He is just and “there is no malice in Him” (Psalm 92:15). He is gentle toward those He loves (Psalm 18:35, Matthew 11:29). Notice how those characteristics of God have nothing to do with our circumstances? That means regardless of what you think God is doing or not doing, He can be trusted. And He is worthy of worship.
Your feelings and fears can crowd out the facts of God’s Word, but focus on the facts (of Who God is), not your feelings. Focus on the facts of God’s Word that tell you He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). When we choose to keep our eyes on Who God is, we become less consumed with our plight and whether or not God is meeting our expectations. When we know He is trustworthy (another fact from God’s Word), we can say like Job: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15 NKJV). Perhaps your paraphrase can be: “Though I’m in the storm, yet I will worship Him.”
2. Praise Him for the opportunity to become more like His Son.
We know from Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” We like to quote that one, believing it’s God’s promise that “everything will turn out alright in the end.” Yet the “good” that God causes to come about from “all things” (even our suffering), is clarified so beautifully in the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (verse 29). There it is! God allows us to endure suffering so that, through our surrender (and worship!), He can mold us and refine us into the perfect image of His Son.
God wants our eternal good, more than our earthly or temporal good. And our eternal good is whatever makes us more like Jesus. We don’t become more like Jesus through sunshine and happiness. We get to know Him as we, like the Psalmist David, “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and “fear no evil” because “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). We become more like Jesus as we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily (the cross is a symbol of suffering), and follow Him” (Luke 9:23). If you find yourself in a storm, worship Him as the only One who can ultimately still the storm, but also as the Only One who can make you more like His Son through it!
3. Sing to Him daily.
This one’s a little more difficult when you’re in pain, emotionally or spiritually. Yet Scripture exhorts: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Another way of saying that is “In everything, sing.”
Anyone can praise God when life is going great, but it takes true surrender and it is pure worship to sing to Him when you’re suffering, to praise Him in your pain, and to lift up His name when you’re feeling loaded down. You can worship God even in the storm when you choose to—in all things—sing.
4. Proclaim His goodness to others.
There’s something about verbalizing the goodness of God that cements it in our heads and hearts. Even if you aren’t necessarily seeing it yet in your circumstances, tell others of the way He’s watching out for you, guiding you, providing for you, and calming your heart. As you speak of His love and faithfulness to others, that praise brings you into His presence, where there is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).
Testify of His goodness in hand-written letters or emails to family and friends, and in your social media posts. (But don’t write eternally long posts that elaborate on your trials and end with a quip like “God is good, all the time.” Proclaim more of God’s goodness than your grievances. As you do that, you are showing others – believers and unbelievers alike—that, once again, you worship God because of WHO He is, not because of what He has or has not done for you.
5. Look for new blessings each morning.
In Lamentations 3, the prophet Jeremiah writes of his misery in the first 20 verses. Then he recalls what keeps him worshipping and waiting upon God for his deliverance:
The Lord’s acts of mercy indeed do not end,
For His compassions do not fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I wait for Him.”
The Lord is good to those who await Him,
To the person who seeks Him” (verses 22-25).
Scripture promises the mercies of God never come to an end; they are new every morning. Watch for them. Anticipate them. And praise God for them whether you actually see them or not. Did the sun rise? Did the birds sing? Does air continue to flow through your lungs? Does your heart continue to beat? There is always something to be grateful for and therefore a myriad of reasons to worship Him. As you worship—and anticipate His refreshment of your heart—you will find all you need. Jeremiah 29:13 promises: “you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
6. Praise Him for the ‘secret treasure’ of knowing Him better.
Job, who endured the biggest storm any of us will ever face (apart from what our Savior endured on the cross), came out of his intense suffering with a much deeper, more intimate knowledge of the sovereignty of God. His testimony (before God restored his health and possessions) was: “I know that You can do all things, and that no plan is impossible for You” (Job 42:2). Yet the true treasure of Job’s suffering was not the restoration (and multiplication) of all the possessions he had before, but the intimate knowledge he gained of his God, as evidenced by his words in verse 5: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You.”
Job had heard of God from his forefathers. (There was no written record of God and His story during Job’s day). But after Job’s suffering, he had experienced God intimately, and seen Him in a sense. That is something that rarely happens unless when we’ve walked with Him through the darkness of a storm. Perhaps that intimate knowledge of Him is the secret treasure God was referring to when He told the prophet Isaiah: “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name” (Isaiah 45:3). Praise and worship Him, in the midst of your storm, for the treasured privilege to know Him in a way that few others do.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/BERKO85
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is also a mother, pastor’s wife, and author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, and When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts. For more on her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.