14 Mar Leading With a Broken Heart
As I write, I, along with my church family and many others, am mourning the great loss of two devoted followers and servants of Christ. There aren’t words to exemplify the depth of heartache and devastation in my soul. The emotions are harsh, and lost thoughts often wander to questions with unclear answers.
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1 Corinthians 13:12 MSG)
Tragedy is certain in this life. Heartbreak is inevitable. We don’t always understand why we must endure pain, but as worshippers and followers of Christ, we serve a Savior who knows much about pain and enduring. One day we will see Him face to face. There will be no more pain, no more tears, no more troubles. On that glorious day we will surely be steady uncompromised worshippers. Joining with the twenty-four elders and angels we will sing boundless praises like nothing this world has ever seen. Consumed by the very presence of God, we will quickly cast our crowns at the foot of His throne, and our souls will finally experience the ultimate freedom from distractions, hardships, temptations, and allurements. Oh, what a day! I can’t wait!
But, as much as we want to go, we must stay. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, expresses the tension between “going” and “staying”.
“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” (Philippians 1:22-24 NIV)
In verse 21, Paul says that, for him, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”. It’s important that we don’t consume ourselves with the “to die is gain” part and discredit the first part of the verse, which says, “to live is Christ”. Paul’s perspective is encouraging because it reveals that here on earth, right now, we can worship and encounter Jesus Christ. We don’t have to wait for heaven to experience God’s presence. We can remain in Him, and He will remain in us. As believers, we know where we are headed. We are instinctively journeying toward our eternal paradise. As a runner runs hard for his prize, we also run knowing that our heavenly inheritance will be nothing short of amazing. While we cannot see it in full until that day, let us not overlook that which we can see right now.
“…this life is not just a dress rehearsal or a waste of time. We can live with Jesus and for Jesus, ushering in His kingdom right here and now.” (Matt Redman)
My pastor, Daniel Stephens, said, “Bad things happen in this world that’s fallen. While Jesus is at work right now, His kingdom won’t be fully expressed until He returns, but the light of Jesus lives in us and shines through us.” We have tasks to complete here. We must continue to press forward in hope. We must be unwavering in our pursuit to encourage the body of Christ and share His gospel with a dying world.
Worship leaders, it’s important that we deeply consider the affects of tragedy within our congregations and respond appropriately in the way we lead our church body into worship. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” When tragedies arise in our nation, cities and communities, we have to be prepared to lead our churches differently through these times; both on and off stage. The tips below can be applied individually and congregationally.
- Take time to mourn.
Tragedy has the potential to knock you flat. Take time to regain composure by waiting on God. It’s in the waiting that we are strengthened. “…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;…” (Isaiah 40:31 ESV)
- Continue to worship God.
Carry on running the race set before you. Continually usher in God’s presence in your own heart and in the heart of your church body. Be an unshakable worshipper who doesn’t shrink back in times of trouble, but instead raise a spirited psalm of trust and praise. Let nothing hinder your quest to glorify God in ALL things. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
- Place your hope and confidence in God.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
- Walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
There is no doubt that questions will arise during tough times, but God hasn’t asked us to find the hidden secrets of life. He tells us to seek Him and His kingdom.
- Focus on the goal.
My most favorite scripture in God’s Word is this,
“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:13-14 MSG)
An eternity with Jesus in our sights reveals us all as unending worshippers. Let us run the race marked out for us with determination. While we have only glimpsed the glory of God and live with the constant thirst for more of Him in our lives, what we see is enough to give us hope and purpose on our journey home. Lord, lead us onward.