By Kathy Ferguson Litton
SARALAND, Ala. (BP) — My worship was radically changed on Sunday morning, July 28, 2002, in Denver, Colo. It had never been more difficult for me to take my usual pastor’s wife place at Riverside Baptist Church — only I was no longer the pastor’s wife and my husband was no longer the pastor.
Three days earlier Rick and I were involved in a tragic car accident. And I was now a 45-year-old widow.
The service that morning ushered me into a strange season of worship — a season of worshiping in the dark. Things that once were clear now seemed veiled in darkness.
I was limping badly and my face was heavily bruised from the injuries I sustained in the accident. My faith was in a similar condition.
Stunned faces filled the auditorium. The loving, caring eyes of our church family were on me as I found my seat. I felt their embrace from afar.
Worship began. The screens prompted the words, “God is good,” yet my heart was far from believing those words. In that moment I made a huge discovery — His goodness, that had once been clear, was now hard to see in the dark. Good circumstances prop up our faith, prop up our worship. But my circumstances were devastating and had dismantled my world.
Worship even seemed inappropriate.
Has life created crisis in your worship? Do the words on the screens belie the scenes in your life?
The verse “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) had never been so challenging. “Sight” was keeping my heart from worship and yet faith was demanding it.
On that day I began the struggle of reconciling my theology to the landscape of my life in which God was acting unpredictably. As author Larry Crabb has aptly stated, “One may not conclude that God is good by studying life….” I was definitely studying life — my life — and my heart was making painful conclusions.
Yet, although circumstances had changed, God had not. The screens were right, “God is good.” I had to strap myself to the truths of the Word, since my heart had become unreliable.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” we read in Psalm 46. “Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling” (verses 1-3, NKJ)
God is unchanging. Even in the dark, where His ways are mysterious, baffling and painful, the unpredictable turns do not suggest His character or His nature have diminished.
My eyes and heart adjusted to the dark. My faith did also. Worshiping in the dark has become my most sacred moment. The inescapable process of “being tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7) produces inexplicable joy. It is as precious gold.
My friend, when your faith adjusts to your dark place, you will find that He is still the God you knew in the light.
Kathy Litton is the North American Mission Board’s manager of planter spouse care.