The Wisdom of Worship
Recently, I was invited to speak as part of a panel on the topic of worship at a women’s tea at a local church. I was honored to be a part of this panel which included a diverse group of women from the Christian world. These women were phenomenal and shared their varied perspectives about worship and it’s meaning in their lives and the lives of fellow believers. The following questions were posed to each of the panelists and here are my answers.
1. Women often minister to other women through song, dance, word, presence, relationship, etc. Jeremiah chapter 9 talks about wailing women and teaching our daughters to lament. What is, if any, is the impact of being or seeing another woman worship God during a difficult circumstance?
What is interesting about this chapter of Jeremiah is that this weeping prophet is so distressed, so lamented about the state of his beloved city and its people being so wicked and sinful that he literally says that he wishes that his head was a pool of water and his eyes a fountain of tears so that he could weep day and night. In this particular passage you are referencing he tells the women to do four things:
First he tells them to Quick! Begin your weeping. Jeremiah recognized the cleansing power of weeping. As women, we can’t be afraid to cry and wail. It is not a sign of weakness. We must let the tears flow from our eyes and allow the cleansing power of releasing our hurt and pain to God be the beginning of our worship.
Second – He tells them to hear the people of Jerusalem crying in despair. We have to pay attention to what is going on around us, pay attention to others who are hurting and in despair. When we hear we have to act, we must not remain silent and act as though we don’t see the pain of others. As Christians it is our responsibility to care.
Then he tells them to Listen to the Words of the Lord, open your ears to what he has to say. Before we can act we have to know what God is wanting us to do, we have to get in his word and then LISTEN AND OBEY!
Finally he says to teach your daughters to wail; teach one another to lament. Sometimes we don’t let people know that we’ve been through some things, sometimes, we like to try and act like we don’t know what it’s like to be depressed, or feel betrayed, or want to walk away from it all. But as women we do know, what it’s like, we do know the heartbreak, the shame, the loneliness, we know it all. And God wants us to teach how we got through the difficult seasons of our lives, to our daughters, so that they know that they’re not alone, or crazy. He wants us to share it with one another, so that we can help someone else. Our story is not ours to keep, it is ours to share.
All that to say, the impact of being/seeing/hearing woman worship God during a difficult circumstance is that then there is hope that I can make it too!
2. In respect to trials and attack, what can we do when our worship is hindered?
When we are going through difficult and challenging times, and feel like our worship is being hindered, we have to remember three things:
1. We have to remember that our only hope is to keep our eyes off of ourselves and focus in and on God as the sovereign creator of the universe. We have to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. The Bible says in John 4:24 that “God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth”. So if we are really trying to reach God and have Him reach us, we must be in the Spirit, which is the truth of who and what we are in God’s eyes. It is only through the Spirit that we can connect, not through our flesh. So we have to put our flesh down, move it out of the way, so we can press in and hear from God.
2. Secondly, we have to remember that our God is bigger than our problems. - Often times, we get caught up in the seemingly overwhelming greatness of our problem, and not the truth that our God is greater than anything problem or challenge that we face. I think sometimes we think that we are really, really smart, and that we can or should be able to figure out how to resolve our problems without God, but the truth is that we are not that smart! We need God! We have to remember that He didn’t create us to be INDEPENDENT….He created us to be DEPENDENT.
3. Lastly, we have to remember to have a spiritual practice of worship already in place. Trials and tribulations are guaranteed to come. James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials”. God wouldn’t have inspired this scripture, if we didn’t need to know what to do when we encounter trials and tribulations. Part of the joy we can count on comes from worshipping God. The scripture says, the joy of the Lord is our strength, so when we worship God, we become strengthened through our worship as we find joy in recognizing who He is.
So worshipping God while we have trials and tribulations is a choice we make. Our worship can only be hindered if we let it, if we sit back and listen to the lies of the devil that tell us we can’t worship a God that has let this horrible situation or circumstance befall me. But it is a lie from the pit of hell! The truth is we CAN worship God, in spite of what’s going on because we KNOW THE PLANS HE HAS FOR US, PLANS TO PROSPER US AND NOT HARM US, TO GIVE US A HOPE AND A FUTURE. WE KNOW THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD, FOR THOSE WHO LOVE GOD AND ARE THE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE. You see even when difficult things happen, we have to remember it is so that God’s purpose in our lives can be fulfilled and not our own!
3. As wailing women and worship leaders, give us your perspective on love–hate relationship between secular and sacred music.
First, we have to remember that when it comes to the flesh vs. the Spirit, there will always be conflict. The Bible says in Galatians 5:16-17 that “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please”. Because doing what we please, means doing what pleases our flesh!
Secondly, I think we have to remember that Satan was thrown out of heaven because he thought he should be worshipped just like God. He did not like being “second best.” He wanted to be God: (Isaiah 14:13) says, “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain’” Satan fell because of pride and ego. And because he is the god of this world, every form of sin and wickedness can be linked to this spirit of pride and ego. In secular music, the focus is on self - what makes me feel good, what I like, what I want to do; what I can do…it is very prideful and ego-centric. And when I say EGO-I mean that it Edges God Out. It takes our focus off of depending on God and it makes us think we are independent.
Finally, when you worship, it is all about God! When you worship you are saying that I don’t care about myself, my problems, my circumstances, or my finances!When you worship, you lay all of that down and take on the God EGO which says I will Exalt God Only!Because He alone is worthy of all honor, glory and praise!
4. Apart from the Bible, and books authored by our panelist(s), what other books on biblical womanhood do you recommend and why.
There are so many great resources available to ladies both in print as well as electronically. I just finished a women’s bible study written by Priscilla Shiver called Breathe. This was a phenomenal study that focused on reminding us of the Sabbath principle and the fact that we are to rest and not always gather. That we are to remember that God alone is our source of provision, not our jobs, not our husbands, not ourselves. I highly recommend it.
5. Can each panelist is to give the ladies a scripture for encouragement as they grow as worshippers.
Psalm 145.3 - Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.