By Hannah Card
Wounded. That’s the word I would choose to characterize my heart this last year.
At every turn, these twelve months have ushered in the breathtaking loss of hopes and dreams, expectations, relationships, and stability. I’ve said good-bye to more than I ever could have imagined.
But amid great loss, God did an extraordinary thing in my heart. He taught me the power of worshiping while wounded.
I still remember the first time I learned the power of worshiping in the midst of immense pain. While driving to church, I pulled over to cry for a good fifteen minutes. When you’re in ministry, you do your crying away from the church. When I finally arrived, I made it only about six steps into the building before the tears began to well back up. I wanted to leave, but I knew that would cause more questions than it was worth. I sneaked into the kitchen, which happens to have a perfect side-angle view of the service in the sanctuary.
As I stood in a corner, just out of sight, I wept. And then these words echoed through the sanctuary: “I find my strength, I find my hope, I find my help in Christ alone.” As I listened I felt a question pressing against my heart. It was the same question I’d heard Annie Downs ask in a podcast earlier that week. Are you brave enough to build a life that brings you joy and God glory even if he never answers the deepest longings of your heart?
I began to sing, and through my sobs I declared my life belonged to Jesus and I proclaimed him my hope. Not one single thing about my circumstance changed, but everything about my heart did. I chose to worship even while wounded.
As my world continued to shake, God offered me numerous other opportunities to tether my heart to the one unsinkable rock—him—through honest worship. A few months after my experience in the church kitchen, I stopped by my college church. During a beautiful worship service, I got the kind of shattering news that takes your breath away. A neighbor who didn’t know Jesus had just taken his own life. I wept, and then I felt God nudging me to worship, to mark this place, this season. To mark his goodness amid my pain. And what came next was one of the rawest and most beautiful moments I’ve ever had with the Lord.
Hard times continued to come, but worship became a natural response. Like when I walked out of a break-up straight into a night of worship. Or when I wept on my bathroom floor, alone and desperate as Bethel Music echoed in the background. I found myself slipping comfortably into peaceful surrender each time a storm came. They never stopped. While God could have calmed my seas, he didn’t, and I still believe he is sovereign. He never stilled the waves; he simply taught me to surrender and worship among them. We don’t have to be healed to be humbled. We can worship him while wounded.
Maybe you need to hear this today. Life can be gut-wrenching and hard, but you don’t have to wait for a difficult season to end before you begin to worship. Right here in the hard, our God is abundantly good and worthy of our worship. He’s humbled me time and time again as I’ve been broken and then stood in awe in moments of worship, countless tears streaming down my face as I’ve whispered praise.
No matter what heartbreak we experience, God remains worthy of our praise.
Hannah Card is a wonderer and a wanderer. She is a southern-speakin’, Jesus-lovin’ coffee consumer who writes about life, whether pretty or messy (usually leaning toward messy). She is the daughter of two amazing, brave, church planting Jesus followers, the sister of an amazing worship pastor, and a lover of Jesus. She blogs at thissweetlybrokenlife.com.
Photograph © Chad Greiter, used with permission