How Does Suffering Shape Our Worship: A Call to Dependence

In the first installment of this 3-part series, we explore how suffering shapes our worship by producing dependence.

Heather Fulk

4 minute read

I still remember the day my pastor walked into our weekly staff prayer meeting and announced that his lovely wife and the mother of their 8 children was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was a shock, to say the least. I wish you could have known her (and some of you reading probably did). She was a beautiful woman, full of faith and joy. I still remember the first time I had the opportunity to pray with and for her, before I really knew her. I got a picture of a little girl dancing with her Father. I don’t remember exactly how God unpacked that in the moment, but I remember that it was meaningful to her and, little did I know at the time, exactly who she was as a daughter of God.

Immediately after the diagnosis, our little spiritual family went on the attack in prayer. We were desperate for God to show up in big ways. We all prayed corporately and privately, holding prayer meetings just for her healing. We were blessed enough to have pastors from other churches who had seen healings and miracles come into her hospital room and pray for her. Not a prayer was wasted nor a stone unturned in our quest for her healing.

I also remember the day I was able to say a final goodbye to this young mother of 8. It was devastating on so many levels for me and for our corporate body. The loss was great that day and it was felt by all. It shook our community, testing our faith, and bonding us in suffering. I was one of the two primary worship leaders of our community at the time and it was tough to know what songs to pick and how to lead a people in faith and suffering, all at once.

The beauty of this story is that, through all of the struggle of a long battle with cancer, the man who I still call pastor and friend never wavered in his dependence on God. There are some men who publicly wear a persona but privately struggle alone. He was not one of them. Who he was in public was who he was in private. I am so grateful to journey that season with him because I learned this lesson:

Suffering produces dependence.

Each Sunday, this man of God would show up, hands raised or kneeling, as he usually does in worship. He would share his grief, his struggles, his fears but always come back to a humble dependence on the sweet presence of Jesus to carry him through this situation, regardless of the outcome. It was a long, painful journey and we all made it to the other side, but we were a changed people.

Jesus promises that we will suffer. We can’t get out of it. He also promises that it is working something beautiful out in us. That journey taught me that I can trust God in my doubt, my questions, my sufferings if only I will lean on Him in total dependence. Our worship shifted in that season. We began to sing songs like this one, with tears in our eyes and our hands raised to heaven:

We still believe
We still believe
We’re still surrendering our hearts
Your faithfulness is our reward

We still believe
We still believe
And though the journey has been hard
We still confess Your goodness God

Through the fire, through the pain
We offer You our “yes” again.

Kathryn Scott -- We Still Believe

Our worship shifted in that season because we needed to be reminded again that we were totally dependant on God for the healing of our body and then, the healing of our hearts. It wasn’t always easy to worship, but it was necessary to cling to the Father when everything else felt so unfair and unfamiliar. Worship, musically or otherwise, shapes our perspective.

If you find yourself in a situation today that is just entirely out of your control, I encourage you to find ways to worship that draw you into the Father’s arms in total dependence. That doesn’t mean that you won’t doubt, be afraid, be angry, you name it. It means that you have a safe place to land in the Father’s arms and you can totally depend on Him to comfort you and give you fresh perspective on the situation. Saturate yourself in His presence. Respond to His goodness even when nothing in your life seems to be good. He is waiting to comfort those who mourn. Lean into Him today and find your rest when you surrender completely to Him.

Read Part 2: A Call to Honor…

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