Have you ever not wanted to worship? Maybe you’ve shown up to church on a Sunday and felt like the last thing you wanted to do was sing… what do you do in that moment? How should we respond when our hearts just don’t engage?
Most of us already have or will go through seasons of life like this. There are undoubtedly people in our churches that feel this way every single week. A good friend of mine recently reminded me of a short phrase that has become life-shaping for me when I find myself in moments that I don’t want to sing, or I don’t want to give thanks, or I don’t want to participate in corporate worship. The phrase is this: “Hallelujah anyway.”
When you know that God is worthy but you’re just not feeling it… Hallelujah anyway.
When you know that God is good but you can’t see it in the moment… Hallelujah anyway.
When you know that God loves you but it’s hard to believe it because of present circumstances… Hallelujah anyway.
When you didn’t get the job that you wanted… Hallelujah anyway.
When your loved one’s diagnosis is worse than expected… Hallelujah anyway.
When life just isn’t great… Hallelujah anyway.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for some sort of dismissal of reality as a form of worship — the kind where you “leave your problems at the door and pretend everything is okay.” In fact, I’m encouraging the exact opposite. We must learn to be people who praise God through the storms of life just as much if not more than we do when we are living in seasons of plenty.
To me, “Hallelujah anyway” is short-hand for the invitation of the psalmist in Psalm 62: “Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” It’s a way of declaring that our present circumstances or our current feelings won’t win out — won’t keep us from joining in the eternal song of heaven happening at any given moment.
There is something powerful that happens when we bring our cares, our hurts, our struggles to the Lord in worship. We learn to worship as an act of defiance against the world and its troubles. Some days our Hallelujah is strong and robust; other days it squeaks out through a broken voice and from a fractured heart. By learning to worship when we don’t feel like it, we train ourselves to turn to God in all things. This builds a more substantial life of worship in us as Jesus’ followers.