Everybody goes through wounding experiences in life even those of us in ministry. Whether these wounds are physical, spiritual, emotional, or relational, theyre either in your life now or theyre coming. So what do we do when were wounded? Worship. Its the only antidote to our pain.
Job is a great example of this. He lost everything his wealth, family, friends, and health in a 24-hour period. In one day, Job goes from a hero to a zero. Throughout the book of Job we see a man who is deeply wounded: physically, emotionally, and relationally. Yet the book also tells the story of how Job worshiped God instead of becoming bitter.
How do you do that? How do you connect with God during a crisis in your life? Many of you had a crisis this week. Others have been carrying around wounds your entire life and havent been able to get rid of them. To worship in the midst of this pain, you need to:
1. Grieve. Tell God exactly how you feel. You need to unload all of your feelings. When you share your feelings with God, when you trust him with your pain, youre worshiping even when those feelings are negative.
Job expressed his pain to God. Job 1:20 (CEV) says: Job stood up, he tore his robe in grief, shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. In the ancient Middle East, thats what people did when they wanted to express frustration, anger, or deep grief they tore their clothes.
God did not make our bodies to handle negative emotions. God never designed them that way. When we swallow our emotions, our stomach keeps score.
So the first thing you do when you experience pain in life is confess it. Tell God you dont like what happened it stinks! Dont worry. God can handle it.
2. Praise God. After you grieve, praise God in spite of your circumstances. Dont thank God for your problems, but thank him in the midst of your problems.
Jobs story is in the Bible for one question. Will I worship God if everything goes wrong in my life? Would you? Its easy to worship God when everythings going your way. Its easy to be a fair weather believer.
But what happens when everything goes badly in your life? Would you still trust God? Thats the ultimate test of faith. Youre going to be tested. Thats guaranteed. At some point in your life, everything is going to fall apart.
Yet theres a lot you can praise God for even when life is bleak. I used to think life was mountains and valleys highs and lows. But the longer I live, the more I realize thats not reality. Theres never a time in your life when everything is perfect. And theres never a time in your life when everything is bad. Actually, life is more like two rails on a railroad track. One of them is the good things in your life and the other one of them is the bad. You get both all the time.
Job chose to thank God in spite of his pain and so can you.
3. Ask God for wisdom and strength. When were wounded, more than anything else we need wisdom and strength to know what to do and to get the power to do it. Throughout his story, Job depended on God for wisdom and strength.
You dont think straight when you are wounded. You start thinking goofy thoughts, such as retaliating and getting revenge. You need wisdom. The Bible says this: True wisdom and real power belong to God. From him we learn how to live and also what to live for. (Job 12:13 MSG)
You also need strength the power to do the right thing. Psalm 37:39 says, The Lord saves good people and he is their strength in times of trouble. (NCV)
I dont know what kind of problem youre going through right now, but I do know that God is waiting to strengthen you. When you become a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the exact same problems before you became a follower of Jesus. Youre not exempt! But now you have Gods wisdom and strength available to you so ask him for it!
4. Gather with others for support. God doesnt want you to worship by yourself. You were never meant to handle all your pain and all of your wounds alone. If you havent learned how to share your pain, youll never get well. Youll hurt the rest of your life.
Heres the problem: When were wounded, it is human nature to withdraw. When we get hurt, we put up barriers. We put up boundaries. We put up walls. We pull back into a shell. We lock ourselves into self-imposed prisons. Thats just stupid. Youre never going to get well until you learn to open up again.
Thats why even pastors need to be in a small group a group of others in ministry and a group in your church. A recent survey said that 25 percent of Americans say they have no close friends to depend on. If you dont need a small group, you will. Youre going to need people who are committed to you that when everything drops out of your life, theyll still be there.
5. Keep on going. Did you know that keeping on keeping on is actually an act of worship? In Job 2, Jobs wife suggested that he curse God and die. She suggests her husband end his pain on the spot by killing himself. But Job refuses. Instead he says, Though he [God] slay me yet will I trust him.
That is the ultimate statement of faith. When all looked doomed, Job trusted God and kept going.
What gave Job that kind of depth? In Job 19:25, Job says, I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job expected a coming savior, a redeemer.
Any pain you have is relatively short compared to eternity. One day, if youve put your trust in God and in his redeemer, then youll live with him forever in eternity. And there will be no more pain there, and no more suffering, and no more sorrow. So hang on by not looking at the here and now but by remembering what God has planned for you in eternity.
Those of us in ministry are not exempt from pain. Whether youre experiencing pain because of unfair criticism, exhaustion, or even a problem you caused yourself, or if there is pain from your past that youve never dealt with, please dont ignore it. Dont let it rob your ministry and block the worship you should be giving God. Deal with it today. Grieve for the pain thats in your life. Praise God in the midst of the pain. Ask God for wisdom and strength. Gather with others for support. And keep on keeping on.
Remember, your redeemer lives!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.