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How Can I Worship God Through Tough Times?

Written By Julian Panga, India

Julian grew up in India and then lived in Australia for 12 years. While working in the banking and finance Industry in Melbourne, he also served as a church elder, missions trainer, and Bible teacher. In 2014, he returned to India in response to God’s calling and is currently involved in pastoral ministry and theological training. He is passionate about teaching and training as well as engaging the youth and those in the marketplace with the Gospel.

Worshipping God is easy to do when everything is going well. However, when things get tough, we can feel as if God is far away, or that He doesn’t care. During those times, it can be hard to worship God—to love Him, honor Him, and acknowledge Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He is able to do.

I went through a period where my work was so demanding that all other areas of my life suffered, including my devotional life. I was frustrated to the core with my work—I felt sidelined, dissatisfied, and angry. As a result, I isolated myself from my colleagues and friends, and even distanced myself from God. I could not see any purpose to life, and simply wanted to give up on everything.

Our emotions are easily influenced by our circumstances. If we base our worship of God on our emotions, it could become a painful drudgery on the inside and a deceptive facade on the outside. While our emotions might fluctuate, God is unchanging—His mercy, love, and grace remain with us through difficult times. When we focus on that, we can worship Him whatever our circumstances.

Through navigating the different challenges of life, I have realized that the one sure way I can break the shackles of discouragement, disappointment, and disillusion, is to worship God wholeheartedly. And surrounding myself with people who genuinely love and honor God is also important for me to be encouraged and motivated to worship God even when life gets tough and demanding.

Here are three ways that I consciously remind myself to worship God, especially in hard times. These actions help draw me closer to God and prepare my heart for worship:

 

1. Remember God’s Past Actions

One time I was traveling home, and found myself alone in a train compartment with a bunch of miscreants who were intent on stealing from me. Another time my family and I were in a car, and only narrowly avoided a serious accident because of a drunk driver. Each time I could only gather enough breath to muter “God, I love you; please help me!”

Immediately I would remember times where God has helped me in the past. Those memories of God’s faithfulness and protection remind and encourage me that God is my tower, my refuge, and my fortress in times of trouble (Psalm 31:3, 62:6, 91:2). I can run to Him and find safety, security, and comfort.

Each time I struggle in life, I remind myself of God’s timely actions in my past, and all those many junctures of my life where I have clearly seen God’s hand of protection, provision and strength. God keeps His promises to His children always, and has proved Himself throughout history as well as in my own life. When I remember God’s nature and His past actions, I am encouraged to worship because I know that whatever the circumstances, God’s faithfulness and benevolence will not cease towards me.

 

2. Draw Encouragement from the Holy Spirit

God assures us in the Bible that His presence is always with us. When we accept the Lord into our lives and are born again, we have a constant counselor, companion, and guide who dwells in us—the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 26; 15:26). So when worshipping God in hard times, I take comfort in the fact that the Holy Spirit lives in me, leads me, and guides me. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth—He helps me understand God’s Word, and I can respond to God through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Romans 8:26-27).

The crossroads of life can be confusing. At one point, I faced a decision about serving in full-time Christian ministry. I strongly desired it, and felt that this was something I was being called to. However, there were challenges ahead I did not know how to face. During that time, I was reminded that as a believer I have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. I could rely on His counsel and guidance. As I considered the future, I was assured that God who called me will faithfully take care of me and my needs, and I just needed to surrender myself to Him in obedience.

When I surrendered, I felt a huge burden lifted off my mind, and I attribute that to the work of God’s Spirit in my life. He has not stopped leading and guiding me to this point of my life, and I know He never will.

When faced with problems, I remind myself that the Holy Spirit continually encourages me, assures me of God’s presence and guides me forward. I can rely on and trust God even through hard times, and I can worship Him knowing that His Spirit is always with me, encouraging me, and working in and through me to fulfill His purposes (Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 2:13).

 

3. Assure Yourself of God’s Everlasting Love

God’s Word assures me of His perfect love towards me, and prayer keeps me connected with Him and listening to His heartbeat. God’s perfect love, unlike human love, is unconditional. God’s love is forever and lasts for generations to come (Psalm 100:5). This truth about God comforts my fearful mind. It reassures me of God’s hand on my future, however uncertain and daunting that future may be. I know God has my best interests at heart, even as Philippians 1:6 says, God has begun a good work in me, and He will carry it out to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I know that I can safely hand over my troubles to God, trusting Him to give me victory over those life situations. Even though it is hard to stop worrying entirely, knowing and experiencing God’s love for me helps me re-focus my entire being to worship. And when I worship God, even my worst troubles pale in the light of His love.

Ultimately, while life’s hardships are difficult to deal with, they are still temporary. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 that while we waste away on the outside, inwardly we are being renewed everyday. Our momentary afflictions are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, and so let us not to lose heart! When we honor God through worship that He alone deserves, our inner selves are being renewed. Our troubles may last for a while, sometimes even for a lifetime, but worship is for eternity.

 

Worship ushers us into God’s presence, where there is peace, assurance and calmness of heart. And that is what we especially need in those hard times. Worship helps tide us over those difficult times of life, and gives us hope for an eternity—where there will be no more tears, death, suffering, crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). Come, let us worship our God!

3 Ways to Worship God During Tough Times

Written By Hilary Charlet, USA

Last year was a tough one for me. It started off great—I went to my first-ever Christian conference in February, and it was amazing. Everything I heard and saw at the conference encouraged me, challenged me, and filled my heart with a deeper realization of God’s love for us. The theme of the conference was “Stepping Season.” Little did I know, I was about to enter into my own stepping season that would test everything I learned that weekend.

From the moment I left the conference to the months that followed, it seemed like anything and everything that could go wrong, did. There were weeks of hospital stays for my brother who had a blood clot in his arm and required surgery to remove a rib constraining his vein, strained relationships with people I care deeply about, as well as sleepless nights, heartbreak, tears, rejection, confusion . . . It seemed like it was never going to end.

I was able to smile when I was around others, but when I was on my own, I couldn’t keep it together. I was mad. I had questions. I didn’t understand. I was scared.

I was feeling a lot of emotions, and quite honestly, did not feel like worshipping through it. I just cried a lot at first and prayed that God would heal and comfort me. It was during that time that I learned to worship God in spite of my circumstances.

While I wouldn’t choose to go through it all again, the experiences of the past year taught me the power and faithfulness of God in even the darkest of times. Worship, I realized, was all the more important in difficult times. Here are three things I did that helped me worship Him:

 

1. Dig into His Word

I had spent time doing devotionals in the past, but now it was a daily necessity. Reading about God’s promises and faithfulness in the stories of the Bible gave me hope. Some of the people went through some really rough stuff, sometimes for years. Think of Joseph, for example—sold by his brothers and eventually sent to prison for two years (Genesis 37-41). Think of the seven years of famine (Genesis 41-45). Or the time the flood filled the Earth (Genesis 6-7). Yet God always remained faithful, even when it seemed hopeless. He would certainly remain faithful in my life.

Not only did I encounter God’s Word in my daily quiet time, but it seemed like wherever I turned, the verse Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”, would somehow surface, whether it was in a conversation with someone, reading something random, or even purchasing a t-shirt for a fundraiser.

Even though everything in my own life seemed so out of whack and crazy, this verse assured me that God would somehow use what I was going through for good in the future. Though it hurt at the time, the pain wouldn’t be for no reason at all. God was behind the scenes working, and though it might take time, it will all have a purpose.

Sometimes it’s difficult to open up my Bible and read a story about how good God is, especially when it doesn’t feel like it at the time. However, I am learning to cling tight to His promises. His plans are far greater than any we can imagine. He’s working everything together for our good.

 

2. Turn on your music

Sometimes positive, upbeat music is the last thing we want to hear when we are wallowing in our troubles. It’s worth turning them on anyway. “Mighty Warrior” by David Virgo got me through so many days last year. The lyrics, “Mighty Warrior, You will see that all things work for my good, things work for my good” in particular really spoke to me. It was only months down the road that I realized how the song had helped me declare God’s goodness and faithfulness over my life in spite of what I was going through.

“Walking on Water” by NEEDTOBREATHE was another song that got me through the hard times. During the weeks my brother was in the hospital, my sister-in-law and I heard that song consistently playing on the radio. The lyrics were just what I needed to hear. They reminded me that the Lord was working, and I just had to trust Him through the wind and waves.

Find songs that lift you up, that you can worship through. Put the songs on repeat. Crank it up. Jam out. Look for the truth the song proclaims, and repeat it to yourself until you believe it. Sure, worshipping God might be the last thing we feel like doing. But let’s do it anyway. Worshipping through the hard times brings us new strength and hope. It might be just what we need to get through the day.

 

3. Be honest with God about your emotions

In our hardest times, we need to turn to the Lord. He wants to be there for us, and He wants to listen. Let’s not hide anything from Him. After all, He already knows what we’re feeling, so why not just be raw and real with Him? If we’re angry, we can tell Him. If we’re confused, we can talk to Him about it. We don’t need to have it all together to go to Him. He wants us as we are. Every piece of us. He loves us, and He isn’t going to stop listening just because we’re mad or “yelling” at Him. He can handle it.

David the psalmist is a great example of this. In Psalm 42, for example, he cries out to God, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:9-10). David was discouraged and sad, and He wasn’t afraid to show it. We needn’t be afraid or feel bad about telling God our emotions either.

Let us take our true emotions and feelings to God, and may He fill us with His peace, joy, restoration, healing, and love. This won’t happen overnight—or maybe it will. For me, it’s still a daily process and something I have to choose day after day. Instead of covering up how I feel, I am learning that sharing my true emotions brings me peace unlike anything else.

 

It’s crazy to look back now at all that the ups and downs of last year, and it’s even crazier to say that I am thankful for it. I now call it my year of plowing—plowing deep and digging into a deeper relationship with God. A lot of things I had hoped for and prayed for have turned out differently, but they surpass what I originally had in mind. There are also still things I don’t understand, but I now have a different perspective on them. I have seen God’s faithfulness, and I trust and believe that He always works it for our good (Romans 8:28).

God might not be changing your circumstances how you would like Him to, but don’t lose hope. God is shaping you and molding you into the person He created you to be, and it’s going to be beautiful. No matter how dark things seems right now, hold tight and know that God loves you deeply. Let us keep worshipping Him, trusting that He will bring us through even the most difficult days.