If you’ve ever smelled death, you never forget the odor. I smelled it as soon as I walked into Sallee’s hospital room. Her abdomen was the size of a basketball. The inoperable tumor was devouring her from the inside out.
In the fifty years I’ve walked with Jesus I’ve known many Christians – yes, Christians – children of God by faith in Jesus, Christians who lived holy lives to the best of their daily abilities – yes, Christians who nonetheless suffered intractable, unrelenting, and unremitting pain. They awakened each morning with its talons tearing their flesh and went to bed at night without hardly a moment of relief throughout their long day.
And they awakened the next morning to do it all over again.
I’ve known wives married for decades, now caring for the person who no longer knows their name. Or how to use a spoon. Or toilet themselves. I’ve known husbands living the same day-after-day heartache.
I’ve known Christian parents who’ve lost their daughter to a drunk driver on the interstate. I’ve known a husband whose wife was violently raped at knifepoint.
I’ve known . . . I’ve known . . . I’ve known . . . . .
And so have you if you’ve walked long enough with the Lord Jesus.
Which brings us to two critical questions every Christians must answer for himself or herself – and must do so time after time of tragedy and heartache and loss.
Why do we serve Christ? Why do we worship Him?
Everyone familiar with the Bible is familiar with Job. In one shattering succession of disasters, he lost his ten children, his health, and his entire fortune. So great was his desolation that, as he sat in ashes scraping boils from his skin with a broken clay pot, his wife cried out: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)
And then there is Habakkuk. His is a small prophecy tucked nearly unnoticeably between Nahum and Zephaniah in the Old Testament. I memorized something he wrote because I could not fathom – nor can I yet fathom – how anyone could say such things knowing the bloodthirsty invasion he and his nation was about to suffer:
“I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:16-18)
And so, again the questions for you and me – before the days of darkness come, and DURING the days of darkness in which some of us might now find ourselves: Why do we serve Christ? Why do we worship Him?
Do we do so because of what He DOES for us? Is it because He answers our prayers? Or do we worship Him, do we serve Him because of who He is – our God; Creator; Savior?
To ask it in a slightly different way, do we adore Christ because – and only because – HE IS God? Do we worship Him simply because He is worthy of worship and adoration, He who is pavilioned in splendor, whose robe is light and whose canopy space?
Our answers to the questions are so very important to our ongoing relationship with our God and Savior: Do we worship Him because of what He does for us, or because of His measureless might and ineffable love – even if we understand NONE OF IT?
I know why I want to worship and adore Him. And that is why I often ask Him with the utmost sincerity, “Lord, always may I worship you not for what you do, but because of Who you are. Amen.”
What about you?