Worship is often explained as an offering. We are called to worship, regardless of our circumstance. Just flipping through Bible stories in my head, I can come up with a list of people who worshiped despite moments of pain, loss, and confusion. King David worshiped when his son died, after begging God to spare his life. Job worshiped when he lost everything that mattered to him. Abraham worshiped as he was about to sacrifice his son. Paul worshiped while imprisoned. The list can go on. It's an intimidating list.
Recently, my best friend shared the important role of worship in the growth of faith – how essential worship is to rise up from the darkest pit. Sometimes worship means waiting on the Lord in silent surrender, riding each wave of pain and fear, clinging to the belief that Jesus will bring deliverance.
I often wonder how some people can worship even when it feels as though going against oneself. How is it possible to surrender and chose to believe in God's promises when the darkness rolls over my head, drowning out any sense of direction and hope? How to praise God for a flower on the side of the road when I feel as though He is not answering my prayers clearly?
This year has been a terrifying and exhausting emotional journey for me. I have often felt as though God is placing me under His refiner's fire. There have been many moments where I wonder if the ending of the story is worth the constant fighting, striving, and struggling. There have been many moments where I have wanted to lay down and never wake up.
I have good days. I have moments where I can see the hand of God working and it is beautiful. I have moments where I feel the overwhelming love from family and friends. I have been moved to tears by the amount of giving from both God and the people closest to me. I have conversations with my best friend and my courage is restored – giving me enough strength to face the battle of the day. I have days where I see a glimpse of the fruit of my labor through the praise of a coworker or an expression of gratitude from a student.
But I also have bad days. Days when it takes all I have to get up from bed. Days I spend crying – hoping no one will notice my brokenness. Days I feel so desperate, I want to get into my car and just drive away from it all – never coming back. Days, like this morning, when I wake up with my heart breaking. Such a mixture of self-hatred, feelings of failure, isolation, hopelessness, and despair, my whole body shakes as I try to sob out my pain. The desire to rip off my skin and emerge from this body of death is so real, I grip my pillow until my knuckles feel sore. And I cry. I cry, begging God to hold me and to take this pain away. I cry until I have nothing left. Laying there, as though leaning on God’s chest, being rocked back and forth. Then, taking several deep breaths, I rise up to go through the day. Some days, I feel washed clean and free to enjoy the day. Other days, I push myself to go through the motions, hoping, praying, it will get easier.
This morning, I got up and made breakfast for some girls who slept over. In between flipping pancakes, I looked outside of my kitchen window and noticed the sunlight shining in. Listening to worship songs, I thought about the Biblical call to worship even in the midst of pain and confusion. The concept of "waiting on the Lord" passed through my mind. I could feel my shoulders droop in deep exhaustion just thinking about the emotional energy it would take to lift up my head and choose to rise above my sadness - to wait, patiently and trustingly; clinging to God's promises of restoration and an abundant life.
As I watched the sun stream in through my window, I experienced a quiet realization: Maybe waiting on the Lord is as simple as getting up from my bed, wiping the tears from my face and making pancakes. Each pancake an offering – even the slightly burnt and lumpy ones. Maybe these small, barely noticeable offerings are accepted along the great ones just like the widow's pennies next to the bulging bag of coins. Maybe God honors these small acts of effort as worship, holding His hand out and saving these moments in His book.
I believe He sees and He acknowledges. So I will continue to seek opportunities of worship, big or small. I will continue to push through the heaviness and the confusion, clinging to my Jesus believing that He will bring in the new dawn of restoration soon. While I wait for Him, I will worship. One pancake breakfast at a time.