Horatio Spafford endured much tragedy during the early 1870s. His firstborn 4-year-old son died of scarlet fever, then he lost every bit of real estate he had invested in during the Great Chicago Fire. He was working to recover from these losses when he sent his wife and daughters to England ahead of him for vacation near the end of the year 1873. A couple of days later, Horatio received word the ship carrying his wife and four daughters had collided with another ship and capsized. Of his family, only his wife survived. She sent him a telegraph with two words: “Saved. Alone.”
He immediately set sail to be with his wife. On his way to England, with his broken heart filled with worry of the future and for his grieving wife, Horatio penned one of the most prolific hymns, “It Is Well,” as his boat passed the area where his daughters lost their lives.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
How could a man who had just lost everything set his pain aside to praise God and thank Him for that pain? How can he say “it is well” when everything around him says otherwise? I believe it’s because Horatio chose to worship his Lord despite the chaos surrounding him. He chose to focus on God instead of his circumstances because he knew God would use them for good. Nearly 150 years after he wrote this beautiful hymn, God is still using that pain for good every time “It Is Well” is sung from a heart of worship.
In my last article, I laid the foundation for biblical worship and different ways we can worship in our everyday lives. Worship can be music, dancing, working with your hands, reading your bible, spending quiet time with God, and anything else you do while focusing on Him. So, why is worship important? What does it even accomplish?
Worship is a time of rest and renewal
23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)
Everyone has bad days, months, or even years. Our souls grow weary and tired from all life throws at us. Demands at work or school, the stress of paying for everything on time, vehicles breaking down and having to pay for repairs, kids getting sick…the list goes on. Worship works as a tool to refresh our weary souls and provide restorative rest. It refocuses our mind on the one thing that is always pure, lovely, and just: Christ. When we focus our worship on God, our trust in Him is strengthened and we are able to look at our circumstances with fresh eyes and trust He will work it all for our good.
Worship is an act of obedience and surrender
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ”
Matthew 4:10 (NLT)
The first of the 10 Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This means our worship should be an act of obedience to God and no other thing or person will come first. This commandment is not made by an insecure God who lives only on worship, though. This commandment was made because God knows how sinful our hearts are and how easily manipulated our minds are. He knows when we surrender our lives, sins, attention, circumstances, and worldly desires, that we will begin to experience the freedom that comes with being obedient to God.
Surrender is such a beautiful thing, too. In many translations, it means to yield, give up or over, submit, abandon, relinquish, cede, waive, or capitulate. Simply put, it means we do not have to worry or stress about being in control all the time. We do not have to fight to prove ourselves strong enough to withstand everything life throws at us. All God asks us to do is surrender ourselves to Him and to His will and trust He is in complete control. Worship God and His mighty power, and watch how your heart and soul begin to change. Your circumstances may not change, but your perception will.
Worship is freedom from bondage and a weapon for battle
16 But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.
17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love
Psalms 59:16-17 NLT
When we surrender ourselves to God in worship, freedom begins to take root. Our heavy burden is lifted and we are free to run the race set before us. We leave our worries and cares at His feet, put on His full armor, and take up our sword to battle the enemy. Worship is incredibly powerful when we are battling for our lives spiritually. Satan will do his best to discourage you in your walk (“you’re not good enough!”), sow seeds of doubt in your mind (“did God really say that?”), and isolate you from your Christian community (“you don’t have to be part of a local church. Just watch it online!*”).
Worship provides us not only with spiritual weapons, but with a distraction! If we are busy worshiping, focusing on God and His mercies, and praising His name, we will have no time for the enemy and his tactics. We won’t be able to hear anything he says over the sound of our favorite worship music. We will drown out our doubt and replace it with gratitude for everything God has done and thanksgiving for everything He has yet to do.
Worship is such an integral part of being a Christian, it makes it hard to deny its importance. It encompasses each commandment given to us for living a righteous life. Worship beckons us to surrender to God, turns our focus back to Him, sets captives free from bondage, and is powerful in battling our supernatural enemy. Worship lifts our spirits and breathes life into our soul. It should be a state of being instead of something we do on Sundays.
Now that you understand how incredibly important worshiping God is, can you begin to integrate it into everything you do? Yes, of course. Give God your all in worship and see what miracles He will work in your life. You may be surprised at how different your perception becomes when all you can see is the glory of Christ!
23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 NLT
*Clarification: There is nothing wrong with watching church online. You do not have to go to church to be a “good” Christian. However, we were not made to walk through life alone, and God desires for us to be in communion with Him and with the local church body. We need fellow believers to encourage us, hold us accountable, and challenge is in our walk.