― Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved
The alarm clock buzzes to remind us it’s time to get up and get ready for church, something chronic Lyme disease has kept me from doing for nearly two months.
“I don’t think I can do it,” I tell Rog (my husband), “Let’s go to the second service today. Maybe I can get this nausea under control. I’m not missing church on Christmas.”
The alarm buzzes again, telling us it’s time to get up if we want to make it at all. I spend the next hour attempting to sit up and, every time I try, I almost immediately fall back onto my pillow because the disabling nausea is magnified tenfold once I’m upright. “I don’t get it” I complain, “Finally we have one Sunday where I could force myself to push through the pain, and it’s the day this nausea decides to put itself into hyperdrive. There are plenty of people who don’t want to go to church. Why can’t I have one Sunday–just one–where I have the ability to go? It’s not fair.”
And, since I’m a crier, tears start streaming down my face.
And then Rog makes the statement that not only sparks the idea for this post, but that changes my perspective on our current situation.
“Well,” he says, “just think about this. It’s good [you’re upset about it] because it shows you still have faith. There are people who, if they missed several Sundays, it wouldn’t be any big deal to them. But even though you’ve not gone for so long, your faith and desire to go is still so strong you get so upset you cry because you can’t go.”
Wow. That really got me thinking.Why/how do I still have faith when there are times it seems my entire life right now is one big storm after another, with no real reprieve?
And then I realized the answer is multi-faceted. My first response to my introspection was “God makes me feel happy.” And then I realized that’s far too simple an explanation, not to mention it centers on what God does for me, the most human of all reactions and the very antithesis of what a relationship with God requires of us.
So I delved deeper. What is reallybehind my faith? Why, in the midst of all the health trials, financial burdens, loss of independence, and uncertainty that have come with this illness, am I still able to have faith to such a degree that it physically pains me to not be able to worship in His house with my brothers and sisters on Sunday mornings? And I came to the following realization:
The only time I truly feel the best I can feel is when I’m worshipping God.
Now I’ll tell you this, I’m a firm believer that worship isn’t something we have to save for Sunday mornings. If that were the case, I’d be working on getting my “two-months-worship-free” card. But it’s not the case–not at all!
When I have a day where I can’t get out of bed and I spend the entire morning with Christian Hip-Hop playing through the speaker on my phone and find myself getting lost in the lyrics and even speaking aloud in agreement with them–that’s a form of worship.
When my earthly body is so overcome with pain that all I want to do is cry (and I do, sometimes), but through my tears I choose to mentally “sing” the 5 verses of Just as I Am that are engrained in my memory, and any other hymns I remember well–that’s a form of worship.
When I’m writing a blog post on how upset I am about missing out on an opportunity to worship, and can’t stop the fire inside that’s causing me to write–because I want everyone to know that just because you are sick or hurt or sad or lonely or depressed or any dealing with any number of earthly maladies, you do not have to lose faith because, above all else, faith is what gets you through these times–that’s a form of worship.
And when looking at all of the above, the answer to my question is overwhelmingly simple. The reason I’m able to keep my faith strong is because I worship.
Because I make time daily to worship God in some way, whether traditional more unconventional. Because I strive to regularly tell God that I love Him and take time to thank Him for all He does for me (although I don’t think any of us can ever thank Him enough)–and in return, I get that elementary feeling I mentioned when first trying to answer the question–although “happy” is far too mild a word to describe the feeling I experience when I keep my faith by worshipping God. Honestly, it’s a feeling that can’t be described with words because words can’t do it justice, but the closest I can get to capturing its essence is intoxicating joy.
A joy that overtakes my entire being, and a joy that I’ve discovered can only be attained when we live in a worshipful state, regardless of our circumstance. And to me, the blessing of this immeasurable joy that comes from drawing near to God is why my faith stays strong–because without faith, there would be no worship, and without worship, our relationship with God is in danger of becoming something we just say we have instead of something welive out–and if that relationship is just a title we have as opposed to the driving force behind everything we do and the single most important defining characteristic of who we are–we will lose the ability to experience true joy.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that dealing with a chronic illness, or just making it through life itself, is much more manageable when there is joy to get us through our days–the kind of joy we can only feel when we hold onto our faith and worship the King.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” — James 4:8a
*For more about Becca and how she is turning chronic illness into a life of worship, check out her blog at www.lymeislame.wordpress.com