I stood in the sanctuary, surrounded by voices lifted in song, and I felt tears threaten to stream down my face. The words of “The Solid Rock” were on the screen, and my voice cracked as I tried to sing the second verse:
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
There are times when the words of a song ring so true to my own lived experience that I am overcome, and such was the case with this song. Darkness had been hiding God’s face for months, and I struggled to see the truth. Depression had been haunting my days and nights with frustrating consistency, and I was tired. It is hard to rest when the storm is raging. Merely making it to church felt like a victory, and I didn’t know if I had the strength to sing the words I wanted desperately to believe.
In that moment at church, the pain I felt mingled with the hope I wanted to have, and I was unable to sing. As I fought to hold back my tears, I let myself simply listen to the strong voices surrounding me. My church is a singing church; its people sing with gusto, and you won’t find many people not participating in worship. The ache in my heart lessened a bit as I let the truths of the song begin to permeate the thick fog in my mind.
It was then that I felt what I know to be true of corporate worship: the church sings to God but also to and for His people. Singing is both an act of worship to God and a ministry to His children. When we sing together, we are agreeing with the truths presented in the song, and we are singing them over one another as we offer up the notes in a sacrifice of praise. Corporate worship is one way that we can “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15, ESV). As our minds go to those among us who are suffering or celebrating, we offer the words of the songs as prayers of supplication or thanksgiving. When we sing to one another, we are fulfilling the command in Ephesians that says we are to address one another with “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19, ESV). Corporate worship strengthens the bond of a church, for a church that is united in praise will be united in faith and love.
There are days when it is hard for me to sing, when all I can do is bow my head and allow others to sing for me. There also will be days when the opposite is true, and I will lift my voice with gladness and sing to those around me who may be feeling the weight of sadness. God does not require us to feel a certain way when we come to corporate worship; He only wants us to come and present all that we are as an offering to Him and be perfected by the blood of His Son. We do not need to be afraid to bring our emotions with us to church, for God can hold them all.
When you cannot sing the words, let the church sing for you.
When your mind can barely form a prayer, let the church pray for you.
When your tears fall fast and hard, let the church weep with you.
No matter the struggle, no matter the heartache, it is all easier to bear when there are many arms holding you up. Open yourself up to the care of the church, the very hands and feet of Christ, and there you will find love and help.
We do not need to be afraid to bring our emotions with us to church, for God can hold them all. -@mrsmount: Click To Tweet