1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout.
Oh, that God would listen to me!
2 When I was in deep trouble,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven,
but my soul was not comforted.
3 I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help. Interlude
4 You don’t let me sleep.
I am too distressed even to pray!
5 I think of the good old days,
long since ended,
6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs.
I search my soul and ponder the difference now.
7 Has the Lord rejected me forever?
Will he never again be kind to me?
8 Is his unfailing love gone forever?
Have his promises permanently failed?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude
Ever felt that way? Ever felt alone when you come into a place of worship? In your daily life have you been to that dry place where it seems like God is so far away? I’ve been there. And at times I still find myself in the preverbal valley. It is very easy to come into a worship service when you are on top of a mountain, when life is great, you feel as close to God as Moses was (I mean that dude saw God’s backside). But how do we continue to worship when we basically feel nothing, we feel that God has forsaken us? First off don’t stop praying, don’t stop praising, don’t stop communication with God and most important don’t stop relying on God – we can’t do this on our own. Just because God feels distant doesn’t mean God is distant.
“Failing to pursue God during these dry times and relying completely on our own ability or gifts to carry us through can cause us to fall in the trap of going through the motions, void of any authenticity an passion on the inside.” -Brian Orme from Neue Magazines article with Hillsong United Spring 2010
The biggest fear for worship leaders and worshippers alike should be going through the motions. It happens when we allow our praise to just become routine and when we rely on ourselves through the dry times and don’t rely on God. The valleys of our life are the times when we have the greatest opportunity to grow.
“Facing struggles honestly can actually serve as the catalyst to connect to a greater hunger and thirst for God.” -Brian Orme
Let’s look at another moment in the Psalms where the Psalmist cries out from a valley.
1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.
5 They cried out to you and were saved.
They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
We pick up later.
22 I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.*
I will praise you among your assembled people.
23 Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned his back on them,
but has listened to their cries for help.
25 I will praise you in the great assembly.
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.
It’s amazing to see such passion and emotion poured out through this poetry. In both instances we see a writer who feels alone, but yet continues to worship God by remembering what God has done for them before. This last Psalm we looked it precedes one of the most beautiful and memorable Psalms, 23. We must not be afraid of those valleys but like Job and the Psalmists remember the faithfulness of God and continue to Praise. I think of songs such as Blessed Be Your Name, and You Never Let Go from Matt Redman that perfectly frame these feelings and emotions yet allow us to pray and praise through them.
What are you thoughts? Ever been stuck in that valley? How did you find peace, comfort, and the strength to continue to praise?