Just a few months after my dad died, we toted our 6-month old baby to a huge outdoor Christian concert where the Newsboys sang. I still remember them performing one particular song that night:
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name….
You give and take away,
You give and take away,
My heart will choose to say,
Lord, Blessed be your name. (Blessed Be the Name of the Lord).
By that point in the concert, it was evening, and the darkness skirted the edge of the crowds where the huge lights didn’t quite reach.
We had brought my mom along with us, a new widow after my dad’s cancer fight, and I looked through the dimness to see how she was handling that song. It could have been a tough one.
She was worshiping, though. I mean all-out worshiping, hands held high to God, singing away.
I’ve been thinking about that moment recently because mourning impacts our worship. It has to. We can’t come to God quite the same way after such loss.
There are choices to be made.
Do we clutch our hurt to our own chests and try to hide away? Do we allow bitterness to creep in and put this safe distance between us and the God who didn’t intervene or heal or rescue?
Or do we bring that same hurt right to Jesus? Do we lay our brokenness out where He can see it and collapse into His arms and still sing because we’re thankful that He’s there for us and thankful He’s strong enough to carry us?
I find my worship changing these days. My friend died on December 26th after her own bout with cancer.
We sang together in the praise team and choir for a little more than 12 years, so it’s acutely painful at times to sing praises to God and tangibly know that she is missing.
Those notes she used to sing…her notes….the ones she always sang to harmonize with the notes I always sang…..they aren’t there. The chord is stripped a bit bare.
It’s not her voice I miss most, of course, it’s her joyful, sweet presence. Her encouraging kindness, her humor, and her easygoing humility—that willingness to always sing or do whatever we needed sung or done.
I miss her.
The music just reminds me of the loss.
So, there I am playing on the piano, singing the same worship songs, but singing them differently now.
The worship is a little more tender because my heart is softened and aches a bit, like the music is stepping on a bruise that hasn’t healed yet.
The worship is also a little more vulnerable because there’s a rawness and a brokenness I can’t quite hide. The emotions refuse to be tamped down and kept under control at all times.
And the worship is now a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). I’m not bringing Him what’s easy; I’m bringing Him a costly offering, praise when I’m sad and worship when I’m hurting.
Mourning changes our worship because it brings Him near. The barriers are down. The need is evident; we’re so truly dependent on Him.
The Psalmist said:
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18 ESV)
The Bible also promises us that:
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3 ESV).
In order for Him to wrap those bandages around our hearts, He has to come close. He doesn’t just fling the healing in our direction; He reaches out to heal us with His own hands.
We also know Him in a new way. We may have known Him as God our Provider, or The Lord our Shepherd. The names of God reflect His character.
And now, in our sadness, we know Him as “The God of all Comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
That is the name I’ve been using in my prayers and in my songs. Not only is this who He is, it’s a promise of what He does.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4 ESV).
And when we sorrow, we live this out. It’s no longer theory, it’s experienced fact.
God comforts us . We personally know His compassion.
Instead of being a distant God, an unfeeling judge or cold overseer, Jesus:
has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4a).
Worshiping in our mourning allows Jesus to carry us, carry our sorrows, bear our griefs. He did it on the cross. He does it now.