Many times, God speaks to us in themes. I’ve heard it said that this is called a “sacred echo”. The sacred echo I have been aware of this past several months is the fact that so many of us don’t know how to invite God into our pain or stress. We struggle along all week and then when it is time to go to church or Bible study, we tuck that part of our existence away as if that is the only way to be able to give God the praise He deserves. This is unfortunate because what this is really indicating, for some people, is that God can’t be all that He says He is with THIS going on.
I would like to share how many of us, including David, “a man after God’s own heart”, integrate our difficulties into our worship and why that would even be important.
I will begin with why this is important. First of all, if we can only worship God when we don’t have our difficulties in mind, it is easier for unbelief to hide in our subconscious. I believe there may be some people that are conscious of what they are doing, but most of us have a sincere heart toward God and want to believe all that He says. But, we often feel that the only way we can do that is to “put away” what doesn’t make sense in our minds and hearts about “How can He be who He says is with this horrible thing going on?” The trouble with this is that He IS all that He says He is even with that struggle going on! So let me go ahead and move to the “how” of this before I move on to the other important reason to incorporate our struggle into our worship.
I have had many difficult things happen this year. Both of my husband’s parents passed away, And in between those two difficult struggles, significant health concerns of several loved ones, one of my sons moving away to college, facing the challenge of parenting adult children, experiencing misunderstanding in important relationships, financial concerns, fitting in long-term career goals while balancing all of the business of life for my family, my clients, my friends, my ministry and yes, even myself! I feel significantly stressed out most days! However, I have learned in my 30 years as a believer not to leave God out of the picture. He not only has a bird’s eye view of my life, but I let Him into the intricate details of every bit of it. When I am upset or stressed or feel any other “feel bad” emotion, I take it to Him as soon as I can. He calms me; He gives me perspective; He shows me how He is who He says He is by pointing me to people like David, Isaiah, and Joseph in the Bible. Their finished stories show me how faithful He is and that my faith needs to be attached to the FACT that He will do the same for me. One of the ways in which I worship, then, is having the current struggle in mind and as I am singing the words of the praise songs, my heart is also saying, “Yes, Lord, even in this pain, this is true about you! I will see your goodness in the land of the living. I already have and I will again!”
Another important reason to bring God into your current struggle is because, if you don’t, our big “T” trauma (relational abuse, horrible car accidents, violent acts, etc) and our little “t” trauma (daily stressors, misunderstandings, arguments, etc.) can get stuck in our nervous system. I just went to an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) training. They explained that when we have trauma stored in our nervous system, it fuels our current day experience. When a current day trigger activates the stored issue, your body has no idea that what it is experiencing was from 30 years ago. It thinks it is happening today! I believe that happens to all of us to a small degree. To others, like Vietnam Vets or abuse survivors with PTSD, it happens to a significant degree. It is important to get healing from our past so that it is not as easy for current stressors to trigger the old issues. Thankfully, empirical evidence is showing that EMDR can help unlock the nervous system and give significant relief to those who suffered horrific experiences by tapping into the adaptive information processing system. It can also help those with the little “t” traumas. Praise God for modern research in neuroscience that is showing us more and more methodologies for healing! However, we can also, on a day to day basis, be mindful of not allowing negative material to be stored and/or locked in our nervous system by bringing God into every negative emotion and telling Him about your experience. Yes, He already knows about it. But it is beneficial for you to release it to Him from your experience. For example, David would start out some of His conversations with God in His frantic state. That’s OK and beneficial! Tell God all that is upsetting you in the unedited version. Again, He knows it anyway so all you are doing when you give Him the “cleaned up version” is showing Him You don’t yet fully trust His Word that you are loved and accepted even as you currently are. Once you “spill your guts” and all that is inside of you, notice now that you have quieted and now have the ability to hear a “still, small voice”. This is why many are not hearing His voice! It is hard to hear His still, small voice past heightened emotions! When you are quieted start looking in His Word and remind yourself of His characteristics. Who does He say He is that addresses your current stressor? Then start praising Him for that! Praise Him that He is your provider if provision is what you need. Praise Him for His protection if that is what would address what is upsetting you. Praise Him for His love and acceptance if your own poor behavior is what is upsetting you. When you give Him the real deal, He shows you He is the Real Deal!
If you have believed what He says and who He says He is when you have your biggest problem in mind, THAT is faith and THAT moves mountains!