(This week I am including the song “Essential Equations” that I wrote and whose story is included in this week’s blog. I’m sure many of you reading have stories much more difficult than mine, but I hope this blog will bring someone hope in the middle of whatever you’re going through. The lead vocalist on this song is Chelsea Kimball, an amazing worship leader and writer. Chelsea and her band have recorded a new CD and the link to their site is included at the end of this week’s blog. You can help support this blog by purchasing the song on i-tunes. Amazon, and other online stores.)
It can sometimes be easy to talk about worshiping God, especially when life is cruising along without any turbulence. But other times worshiping God can be extremely hard, especially when your health fails, or a loved one dies, or you lose a job, or a spouse leaves, or disaster strikes. That’s when our emotions are worn thin or even raw, and faith can feel like a distant memory. Worshiping God in those times can feel like a daunting challenge, beyond our capabilities.
The reality is this: God is still there even when we don’t FEEL his presence through the storms of life. He understands our emotions, yet is bigger than the ordeal we are going through. He is more than up to any challenge, as the prophet Jeremiah wrote:
“Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17)
I am discovering that worship involves looking to God above our circumstances, remembering and speaking God’s Word and promises to ourselves and others, then hanging on to Him for dear life and allowing Him to bring us comfort and a new future in His time and will.
A few years ago I led a night of worship at a church in Northwestern Minnesota. Earlier that day my wife and I enjoyed a couple hours boating on a nearby lake with fellow musicians and family. After the event we drove home thinking everything was fine. As soon as we went to bed I started feeling sick. I mean REALLY sick. My lower left side had me throttled in the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, and I could find no comfortable position or relief. I prayed hard. Soon I was having trouble breathing, and each heartbeat felt labored and heavy. My wife drove me to the emergency room, where I collapsed unconscious on the floor of the waiting room.
I vaguely remember being carted into a room, where the doctors began putting tubes in my arm and heart-monitoring devices on my chest. I prayed with my wife and told her I loved her, not sure if I would see her again. I kept going in and out of consciousness, and somehow in the fog remembered that at a medical test a while back the doctor told me I had a small kidney stone. I managed to tell this to the attending doctor before I blacked out. I awoke some 14 hours later in a hospital room, where I was told that the kidney stone had grown so large it was causing lung and heart distress. They couldn’t remove it immediately so they put a temporary stent around the stone.
The next month was filled with several medical procedures, and a lot of pain. I continued to work through this time, but every trip to the restroom was an adventure in fear and pain. I cried out to God for answers and relief. In the middle of this ordeal, the lead pastor of our church met with me and told me he was planning a message series called “Essential Equations”, about how God moves even when things don’t seem to add up in our lives. I can’t explain how or why, but I knew God wanted me to write a song for this series, and that he would use what I was going through to help other people. I went home and sat at the piano. I prayed and just waited for God. A little while later a melody and words quietly came to me and the song “Essential Equations” was created. When it was done I tearfully sang it back to God as my own song of praise. I knew God’s Holy Spirit was empowering me to write from a place of suffering about His faithfulness.
A couple weeks later the specialists were able to “blast” the kidney stone, and the next week the stent was removed. The song “Essential Equations” became a part of our church life for a season, and many people told me that it was an encouragement to them in their own lives and circumstances.
A key line from that song is from the Old Testament Book of Proverbs:
“Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5)
God is all knowing and all-powerful. He knows infinitely more than our own understanding, and is eternally strong to carry us through whatever challenges we face in life.
At times we can be severely tested and stretched. Our emotions can fray, and all we can do is simply cry out to God.
God’s reply to us is this: it’s ok: Let me carry you and provide you what you need. Allow me to pour my Spirit into you so that your faith and worship will be the reality that overrides any circumstances or emotions.
Someday we will see God and our worship of Him will be an easy, everlasting outpouring of our adoration and love for Him, free from pain and suffering. Until then, remember that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that He is greater than anything the cosmos can throw at us. Through laughter, tears, triumphs, or sorrows, I pray that God’s Holy Spirit will fill us and help us sing
“You are the only solution to the essential equations of life, So I will trust you Lord…and I will praise you”
Blessings to you!