Monday, August 6, 2012

Praising God When I Don't Feel Like It

Please read the sentence after this next one. During my freshman year of college, I had to take a course called "Ordinary Citizens In Nazi Germany" as a part of my orientation. The class discussed how an educated society could agree to support a man like Hitler and what we should learn from it today. 

The class wholly bummed me out. Like, we had a solid week of critiquing propaganda films followed by a week of holocaust footage. During a Michigan winter? You try to stay cheerful. 

Before each class, I began to listen to The Promise Ring's "Why Did We Ever Meet?" By "listen", I mean "dance around the room and sing at top volume". In my mind, I was defying the winter, the horrible class videos, and my crusty professor's emotionless, mustachioed commentary. 

And for the mile-long walk from my dorm to the humanities building, my plan worked. I chose to sing something uplifting despite how I actually felt, and it made me feel better. 

I didn't come up with this idea. In Psalm 42, the writer says, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." Doesn't that make you stop for a minute? In this worship song, the writer reassures himself he will praise God again in the middle of the song! 

A friend once told me he didn't sing during times of worship because he seldom felt honest singing along. "If I don't feel like praising God, then why would I sing 'I will praise you'?" At the time, I couldn't argue with him. But now I see the flaw in his thinking. I mean, thirteen years later, but still, I see it now. 

The Psalmist sang praise and worship to God even when he acknowledged his real feelings. I sang and danced because I wanted my feelings to change. 

But more than this, it's a question of who or what we think deserves our worship. If you were to choose  to honor how you felt over honoring God, then aren't you worshiping your feelings? Haven't you made your emotions your god? 

Have you ever felt like you didn't want to worship God? What did you do?


Michael Donahue said...

Well said, I learned this same lesson from a friend of mine who said "when things are going wrong and you can't get your mind off them - Praise God, even is you don't want to. After a while, everything will make sense."

I also remember this lanky kid that wore cardigans and horn-rimmed glasses teaching me some guitar chords and encouraging me to praise God in High School. That was a pretty big deal to me at the time, and it still is. Thanks Isaiah.

Isaiah Kallman said...

Oh, those cardigans. I must have thought I was Steve Turner back then. I can probably find that outfit again if you ever want another lesson.

Thanks for saying so, dude.