Worshiping My Way Out of Disillusion

Psalms 10:1 Why do you stand so far away, O Lord, hiding yourself in troubling times?

This is the question that has haunted me for a while. Not all day every day, for there are certainly times when love, joy, and peace shine through, as I noted in a recent post. But those moments only make the next wave of conflict, sin, and error all the more painful. Why, O Lord?! Why, among the glimpses of the beauty of what life will be like when Your reign bursts forth in its fullness, is there so much barren wasteland of sorrow and sin, oppression and injustice? God, why don’t You right more wrongs? Why don’t You correct more error? Why do You allow oppression? And most of all, why do You allow oppression in Your name?

These are demoralizing questions. But these are real questions. It comforts me to know the Psalmist asked the same questions all those years ago. And it comforts me even more to know that God Himself preserved those questions in His sacred Word for our instruction and encouragement today. When I am demoralized by these questions in my heart, I engage in the kind of frank conversation with God that the Psalmist models in Psalms 10. I am thankful again that God preserved the totality of that conversation and never rebukes the Psalmist for engaging God so bluntly. My conversation with God usually boils down to the defeated question – how do I keep going on when YOU seem so silent? How do I move forward in faith when You, the one who is the source of that faith, seems in hiding? How do I endure when You seem to have left the game altogether? I don’t want to live lukewarmly in a sea of disillusionment. But why should I do anything else when You seem to have walked away? Really, God, why do You expect anything else from me?

BECAUSE I AM WORTHY.

That’s the answer the Spirit whispers in my heart over and over again. Why do I endure when I can’t find God? Because He is worthy. Why do I put one foot in front of the other when I feel like sitting down in defiance and giving it all up? Because He is worthy. I can’t muster up the naïve enthusiasm that used to characterize my ministry efforts when I was younger, but neither can I give myself to the disillusionment and cynicism that threatens me. Because He is worthy.

I talked about this when I was thinking through God’s counterintuitive words of comfort to Job. God is God, and He is worthy. At first, that answer may sound trite. Yet it is the least trite answer of all. It sounds simplistic, yet it’s the only answer with the kind of deep profound resonance that I desperately need in those moments.

Yes, You are worthy. You are worthy of more than cynicism and disillusionment. You are worthy of more than lukewarm attempts at the bare minimum of the Christian faith. Even if You hide for the rest of my life, never allowing me again in this life to see Your dramatic movement, You are worthy.

I long for more in this life, yet God is worthy of my endurance through much less. It’s the grandeur and glory of His face that gives me perspective when His hands seem silent in my life. I worship His head, not His hands, His essence, not His gifts. He is good not because He does good things to me, but because in the core essence of who He is when He is completely still and silent, He is so very good. The good gifts He gives us when He moves don’t begin to compare to how incredible He is just standing still.

10 Responses to Worshiping My Way Out of Disillusion

  1. strengthfortoday August 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    Excellent post, Wendy. “He is worthy” is not trite when it is unpacked from a travel-worn suitcase. I love growing older in the Lord. More and more things makes sense because of the Comforter, not just because I think I found the answer…if that makes sense.

  2. Anonymous August 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    This post was an encouragement to me….thank you so much.

  3. Wendy August 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    It does make sense, Diane. 🙂

  4. Jane August 20, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    The good gifts He gives us when He moves don't begin to compare to how incredible He is just standing still.”

    So profound, really. After our family suffered a tragedy, people would continually tell me that God was good, but it was said in the light of what God does when He “moves” and people FEEL His favor.
    Only a small few helped me to see that God was still Good, even when “He is just standing still.”

    Thank you for this, Wendy.

  5. Wendy August 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Jane, I am sorry for your family's loss and glad to know this resonated with you.

  6. April August 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    What a great post. I am really struggling with these things right now. I know He is worthy, but I also feel like I am hanging by my last thread of faith. Thankfully, I know He will not let that break and He will bring me out of this whether I feel it or not.

  7. Jessica September 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    Wendy, I was introduced to your blog today by a Christian friend. I have read two of your posts (this one, and your post on counter-intuitive words of comfort). Both seem to echo what God has been saying to us.

    My family is in what legitimately can be described as a “dark valley”. Our first born died on July 8th, three weeks shy of her 5th birthday. She had a Mitochondrial Disease, an incurable, and untreatable progressive disorder of energy metabolism. She spent the majority of her life in the hospital (including the last 15 months straight), and lived in a great deal of pain most of the last 2 years of her life.

    Over the last 6 months our younger child has begun to show signs of the disease as well, and it seems likely he will also be diagnosed.

    My husband lost his job two years ago, in the midst of my daughter's health crises, and has been unable to find work since. His unemployment ran out 3 days before our daughter died, and we currently have almost no income.

    After burying our daughter, we came home to spend the rest of the summer desperately searching for employment, as the reality of being unable to pay our crucial bills becomes evermore likely.

    Despite our efforts and prayers, it has become clear (to this point anyway), that my husband (a teacher) will not find a job this school year (the 3rd in a row). God as remained silent on what we are to do at this point, and we are unsure of how to move forward from a job perspective, a bills perspective, or much of anything else.

    This morning as I was seriously thinking about indulging in a robust round of self-pity and righteous indignation (after all, haven't we been through enough this summer?), God sent me Isaiah 55:8-9.

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the LORD.
    As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    While not the sweet words of comfort I was seeking (a “there-there, my child” would have been more to my liking), it answered my complaints clearly enough.

    God has the plan. I don't have to understand it, and likely wouldn't anyway. He doesn't have to tell me what it is. He is still God, and I am still not. He is still good.

    Thankfully, he ends that chapter with a promise of joy returning, so for now my family will try to wait patiently while we hold on to that!

    Thank you for your insightful posts, speaking difficult truths to a culture that is certainly unused to hearing- let alone living- them.

  8. Wendy September 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    Jessica, my heart aches to hear of all you are enduring. I am glad you found something of comfort here. I am so sorry for your loss!

  9. Wendy September 3, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    Jessica, my son is also diagnosed with PVV-NOS, by the way.

  10. Lisa writes... September 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Thank you for this. I too struggle with giving into disillusionment and cynicism and your call to perseverance in light of the glory of the gospel is a great encouragement to me. Even if I never see all that I long for Him to do He is yet worthy of my life, my love, my all…