Just like everyone else, I woke up yesterday morning ready to jump into my day. Instead, people were pushed into trying to make sense of what happened in Las Vegas. The staggering numbers noting loss of life and injuries were almost too much to bear, and they just kept growing. That’s nothing compared to actually having to live out that tragedy. Most of us are back to normal life today, but the victims of this massacre won’t ever have the same “normal.” It seems like we’ve had an extra dose lately as well between the hurricanes and wildfires. Tragedy is everywhere, and nothing can stop it permanently until Christ returns. Then, as the Bible states in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” But until then, tragedy exists. How can worship help us to reconcile tragedy with a loving, caring God? And as a side note, I’m not talking about just worship music here. I’m talking about a life lived in a way that brings glory to God.
Worship doesn’t hide tragedy
One of my favorite things about worship is that it doesn’t gloss over tragedy. Worship actually has the ability to highlight tragedy. Take a minute to read through Psalm 42. These aren’t happy verses. This psalm highlights brokenness:
“My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be.”
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?”
Look at Matthew 5:4. Christ doesn’t say “No one will mourn.” He doesn’t say “Following me will end your mourning.” Look at Psalm 147:3. The Bible does not say “No one will be broken hearted.” It doesn’t say “No one will be hurt.” No. These Scriptures do not point to “no tragedy.” In fact, it recognizes that, in an imperfect world such as ours, it exists. So worship doesn’t gloss over tragedy. It doesn’t hide it. It highlights it. Why?
Worship uses tragedy to point to a Redeemer
The Bible is full of examples of this. Many times, people worship God through tragedy. I would contend that even in the celebratory times when people worship God, tragedy, to some degree, makes that possible. After all, without darkness, who can appreciate light? Look at the truth of salvation: We would not be able to fully appreciate salvation if we had never sinned. In Luke 7:40-46, Christ highlights the fact it is through our climbing so far down into the pit that allows us to appreciate the hand that pulled us out.
The entire book of Job seems to call out a theme: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen at all? Honestly, the entire book of Job is the most difficult to get my head around when thinking about a loving, caring, just God. Job has almost everything stripped from him, and is understandably angry. So he vents on God. God responds with a couple of chapters that basically tell Job that God created the world, understands the world, and knows infinitely more than Job. Job takes a difficult stance in Job 42:3:
“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.”
I’m a little bit of a control freak. Those who know me aren’t surprised right now. The idea that God is sovereign and knows more than us is a difficult idea not just for control freaks, but for all of humanity. So, the Bible highlights tragedy in order to point to a kind, loving, and caring God. How does it do that?
Worship allows us small glimpses into a perfect world
Heaven is, until we get there, unfathomable. The best we can do is hope to get a fuzzy glimpse through Scripture and worship. In our house, we’ve got a set of pocket doors with an old-style keyhole. The kind you can picture kids looking through to see what’s on the other side. I believe that we can picture our current state as one room, and Heaven as the other. When do we get the most accurate view of Heaven? When we are closest to the keyhole. It’s an imperfect view of the other room. Fuzzy. Incomplete. A little dark. But getting closer to the keyhole gives us our best glimpse. Heaven is a perfect place, designed specifically to bring us side-by-side with God for all eternity. We can never have that specific experience outside of Heaven. But the closest we will get is when we get closer to God on this side. Walking towards the keyhole requires walking towards God through worship, giving us those little glimpses.