Pastoral Meditation: Dr. Thomas Cook
Worship and Joy
Worship is the primary mission of every created life. The desire to worship will be filled by something if not God. Addictions are the extreme end of that filling by other gods that vie for our worship. The fundamental flaw of the human condition is the desire to be our own god, even for Christians, and to relegate the divine to a footnote or concept assumed.
Especially in times of struggle, we may find ourselves looking to other gods for comfort or guidance. It is in fact in times of struggle that we discover who or what we truly worship. When that god’s power is shown to be limited or false, many finally begin to realize the power of the true God. Charles Spurgeon said, “Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”
For the Christian, joy is not a feeling or emotion as we have talked about before, but it is a decision. When the difficult times come, will you still worship God? It is easy to pray and praise when everything is going according to plan, but do you find joy in suffering? A.W. Tozer said that if God never answered another one of his prayers he would still worship him. Such was the depth of his realization that he owed God for his salvation, he would worship God with no other benefit until the day he died.
Philippians 1:12 gives us a potential reason for our suffering, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” However, Hebrews 11 makes it clear that whether we see the reason or not, faith is holding fast to worshiping God. Philippians 1:29 makes it clear that two gifts are given: faith and suffering. Will you be faithful in the first in the face of the other? True worship does not rely on music, technology, or even the appearance of worldly success in measuring effectiveness. True worship is the outpouring of joy that reveals itself in joyful obedience to God.
I fail, but there is sweet joy in the knowledge that God is faithful. He is faithful to punish, but faithful to forgive. He is faithful to follow through on his promises. His joy never ceases. He never fails.