Worship and Grieving

I’m sure many of us feel the same way when we hear about disaster in the news. It’s a confused conflagration of emotions that seem to swoosh around our insides all at once. We may feel saddened, distant, angry or indifferent. Regardless of how we respond, I think the important question that comes from it is How does it affect our worship?

I believe that worship is the central activity to all human beings, specifically to the Christian.flat,550x550,075,f Everything we do has implications for worship, and this includes how we respond to terrible tragedy.

When we grieve, our confusion can lead us away from God. I don’t know about you, but my thinking is usually something like this: “God, I believe you are all-powerful; you could have done something to stop this; you didn’t; Why not?” It’s almost as if we start to question if God can really be trusted when bad things happen. I don’t think this is a bad thing, as long as we can get back on the right track. Doubt reveals to me that I may be wrong in what I believe about God. It’s times like these that help me to wake up and remember the truths I so quickly forget.

1. God’s goodness isn’t contingent on my physical safety or comfort. I know we don’t like this one, but I’d challenge you to find a place in scripture that promises you won’t ever lose your possessions, comfort, or your life as a Christian. It seems to be the opposite. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that all Christians will suffer in some way. This can be clearly seen in the world around us, but it isn’t meant to be depressing or discouraging. Rather it is meant to show the surpassing value of Christ apart from the life and comforts we have here on earth. His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3).

2. The evil of sin is more evil than I believe. I tend to trivialize sin and make it something less that what it is. I can easily forget that this is a fallen world that is under the crushing weight of sin. But the reality is that the curse is still in effect. This isn’t a game. Sin and Satan are real and not to be taken lightly. Our pastor once gave an illustration with a rubber snake. He held it up, wrapped it around his hand, put it right near his face, all the time saying “Shouldn’t I be afraid?” Of course not. He then had a professional animal 45796878.GreatBasinRattlesnake07_05_05specialist come onto the stage with live rattlesnake. He wouldn’t get within ten feet of the venomous creature. After the snake was gone he picked up the rubber snake again and said, “This is how we deal with deadly sin. We treat it like it’s a toy when it will kill us.” It reminds me of what the puritans used to say: “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”

3. The power of God is greater than the power of evil. No matter how powerful sin seems to be, God’s power is greater. While it’s important not to trivialize grief, loss or pain, it is important to know that God’s power is greater than all evil. In the Cross, Jesus defeated sin and death forever. We have a priest who can sympathize with our weakness because he has experienced all the pain and loss imaginable. This gives us great hope and comfort. Where else can we go? He alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Whether it is by storms, sickness, waves or bullets, death will rear its ugly head in this fallen world. But my prayer is that it would cause us to cling even more tightly to the One who reigns above death and above disaster; the One who is the source of life on earth and life eternal. Pray for those who suffer, not just for comfort now but that we may all know and treasure Christ forever.

Why The Squirrel Gets Run Over

You know the scenario. You’re driving down the road and you see a little furry friend just squirreloff to the side gathering acorns (or whatever else squirrels do). At the sound of your approaching vehicle, the squirrel freezes in its tracks, looks around with that look of utter terror in its beady black eyes, and begins to dart around in several erratic, exasperated, and nonsensical directions. It seems like he changes his mind twelve times in two seconds on which way to run!

I think we’ve all been there. We’ve all felt an overwhelming sense of terrified panic. Chances are we’ve all looked about as silly as the squirrel does when he’s trying to avoid getting flattened.
But I guess it doesn’t really matter how you look when you’re desperate for a way out.

Whenever I see this play out, the question I always ask myself is why. Why doesn’t the squirrel run away from the road and away from the oncoming car? Whether he’s in the middle of the road or ten yards to the side, he always seems to run straight into the path of the wheels of the car. Sometimes he makes it, sometimes he doesn’t.

Well, I guess there’s only one time he doesn’t make it…

I think we can understand his plight if we put ourselves in his place. I want you to imagine you’re standing there minding your own business and suddenly you hear a loud roaring noise and perceive something about two hundred times your size moving toward you so fast that you don’t have time to grasp the exact projection of its movement.
All you know is that you need to run.

That is what the squirrel experiences, at least it would seem that way to me. The reason he doesn’t know which way to run is that he can’t see the big picture. He can’t see things from my perspective. All he knows is that he’s in danger.

This reminds me of myself in many ways. I have an unbelievable tendency to panic and make a run for it when things happen that are so big I don’t understand. Have you ever felt like you forget everything you know in a second? Some would call this “freaking out.” Whatever happens when things take us by surprise, it’s good to remember that God is the one in control, that he’s the one driving. He’s got a better view than I do, and he knows that if I could see things the way he does I wouldn’t worry so much.

See, the truth is there’s plenty of room all around the little squirrel to escape the danger. He isn’t really trapped. What traps him is his fear. Will you let fear trap you, or will you seek to see things from a little higher off the ground?