Worship leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas
I have a confession: I am terribly distracted while worship leading when I notice older saints connecting with the Lord in the room. It is not as though I can avert my eyes and move on; I am taken with the sight. Tears traveling down wrinkled faces, weathered hands lifted toward Heaven. There is something awe-inspiring in the testimony of a man or woman having lived through years, decades, of turmoil, pleasure, the mundane, pressure and sorrow, and her confession through it all, openly displayed through her worship, is that He is worth it.
I am grateful that the Lord values and enjoys even the first declarations of love from the youngest believer. To Him, a yes is a yes, and He receives it as His treasure. Even still, there is a sweetness that comes when there is a cost to love. When things are not going well; when there is loss at stake. When the believer must turn his back upon all other pleasures, treasures, desires, face the God of whom he actually knows very little, and say in truth, “I choose You”. When the One who holds in His hand our very breath allows difficulty, pain, and loss in our lives, the choice to love Him is often made in anguish and tears. And yet in that pain-riddled declaration of love, there is a weightiness that plumb lines inexplicable joy into the depths of the spirit of the one who proclaims it. In finally surrendering our self-perceived rights to comfort, ease and well-being, we tear down the idol that has kept us from walking in the way of true joy and peace.
God allows pain in this life. We can hide from this reality, but in doing so we adopt a microscopic view of the great I Am, declaring Him impotent and unable. God allows loss. Look at Paul. Look at Job. Look at Jesus. But if God is able, all-knowing, and all-powerful, then the wrestle of the human heart in the midst of trial becomes… why? It is in the midst of this struggle, as the eyes of the believer are blinded to its answer on this side of time that the painful depths of love are plummeted. Yes, it’s a real fight of the heart; God is a big God with big shoulders, and He can take all the overflowing, confused emotions we can dish out. But eventually we lean, more like crumple, into Sovereignty. Denying offence and refusing self-pity, it is enough that God knows, and that He can be trusted.
The struggle of the heart through the testing of sorrow is in sustaining a tender spirit. How we care for the deep wound of the heart caused by loss is pertinent to how our spirits emerge from a season of pain. Through neglect and denial, our hearts can harden, becoming dull and unfeeling, not unlike a scar on the body. But as we wrestle for righteousness and simple faith, surrendering our own understanding in light of His unchanging kindness, we allow the tearing in our heart to become a riverbed for the Holy Spirit. He gains access to new depths in our devotion to Him, and we gain a fresh infilling of His peace and presence.
A young girl in my twenties, how much do I really know about living through pain and suffering? Not much. But I see the woman in her eighties on row twelve, fully engaged in loving Jesus, declaring, “Great is Thy faithfulness”. And I know that I want to join her, day after day, year after year, till my confession carries the weight and beauty of a love proven by time.