Planning to attend their church’s 11:00am service, John and his family pull into the church parking lot at 10:58am. They are running late again because their two-month-old baby hasn’t been sleeping through the night, so he and his wife, Michelle, have been taking turns sleeping while the other soothes the baby. Once they arrive, John quickly unstraps his grumpy, and somewhat uncooperative three-year-old from her car seat while Michelle packs up the baby. At this point, John has already done the math, and he knows that once they get their preschooler checked into Sunday School, and the baby checked into the nursery, they will have not only missed the first couple songs, but will have a hard time finding two seats they can slip into without drawing attention to themselves. After a little confusion checking the baby into the nursery, John and Michelle finally make it into the auditorium and find two seats, near the front, which they have to shuffle past two other couples to reach. Finally, at his seat and exasperated, John looks down at his watch and sees that it is now 11:08am. At that moment, the music softens and the worship leader encourages the congregation to lovingly sing to the Lord—to set aside distractions and pour out their hearts affections to God in song.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever been standing in your church’s auditorium while a worship leader encourages you to sing praises with all your heart, and you don’t even want to sing, let alone pour out your heart in song? What do you do? What do you do when you don’t feel like singing?
John’s story is just one scenario of many that might cause a person to not want to sing in a church service. Whatever the reason(s) may be, sometimes we just feel numb. Sometimes, we just don’t want to sing. But, I don’t believe the answer to this is to stop singing. What if singing, during moments like this, is exactly what God wants you to do? What if intentionally shifting your thoughts away from your troubles and onto God and His great attributes is the kind of praise He desires from you in that moment? Or, even better yet, what if God wants you to offer Him praise with those troubles in mind—to praise Him in direct opposition to this world’s troubles? It’s easy to worship the Lord when things are going our way, true worshippers offer Him praise when things are not going their way.
So how do we offer praise in all circumstances? Well, what works best for me is to remember the many joys offered freely through Jesus Christ. Setting our hearts and minds on the amazing gift of grace we received through Jesus should always be enough reason for the genuine believer to praise God. Here are just a few examples of the gifts we have received through God’s amazing grace:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 38-30
“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
It seems pretty clear to me—our troubles are temporary, and our joys are eternal.
Sometimes, the weight of our troubles pull our attention away from the joys God wants to lavish on us, and because of it, we just don’t feel like singing. But again, I don’t believe the answer to this is to stop singing; I believe the answer is to sing all the more.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5