How should Christians worship through difficult seasons? Amid challenging circumstances, Dr. Ligon Duncan reminds believers to base their worship in hope and trust.
Sometimes I’m asked how a Christian can worship through difficult seasons. Though difficult seasons come in all shapes and sizes, we need to be prepared for those trials. Our Lord himself told us that trials would come. In this world, we have tribulation, but in Christ we have peace. He told us that in the upper room, in the Gospel of John. And my mind goes to Job, who said, “Though he slay me, yet will I praise him.” I think that means that for believers who are wanting to worship the living God in Spirit and truth in times of difficulty and trial, we need to remember to worship in hope and worship in trust.
Worship in Trust
We need to derive our happiness from God himself. He never changes. Our circumstances change all the time.We need to trust God’s providence. Our happiness and our ability to love and worship God are not derived from our circumstances. In fact, sometimes they are in spite of our circumstances. We need to derive our happiness from God himself. He never changes. Our circumstances change all the time. And then we not only worship in trust in that way: trust in God, trust in who he is, trust in what he has done for us in Christ—those things are unchanging; they cannot be touched or altered or ruined by this fallen world—we also worship in hope because we know that now is not the end of the story.
Worship in Hope
We know that our king is coming again, and when he comes, he will put all things right.This is not how it is always going to be. We know that our king is coming again, and when he comes, he will put all things right. We worship now in the blessed hope of what is to come. We must place that hope, again, in God only, not in the circumstances of this life. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care what’s happening here, it doesn’t mean that we don’t work for justice here, it doesn’t mean that we don’t long for things to change for the better here. It just means that our ultimate hope is not here; it is in what God is going to do. It is in the things that are to come. It is in the new heavens and in the new earth. When we worship here, we worship in trust and hope. That’s the best way that I know to worship in times of difficulties.