Joy is not something that comes naturally. In fact, it is a choice. We have to choose along the way to rejoice: “We also rejoice … because we know …” (Romans 5:3 CSB). Rejoicing comes from reminding yourself of something that you know.
It’s amazing how many times in Scripture we are commanded to worship—and not just if we feel like it. Throughout the Psalms, the people of God are told to raise their hands in worship, to sing aloud, to shout, to clap—even to dance.
We’re commanded to do these things whether or not we feel like it because worship is a choice. In worship, we choose to rejoice, by faith, in a reality that God declares to be true. Sometimes that choice aligns with our feelings. Often that choice defies our feelings.
Many of us go to church thinking about how we feel. But worshipping is not a reflection of how we feel; it’s a reflection of what we know to be true and what God has promised in his Word. It’s a declaration of what God is worthy of.
Here’s what God often (and graciously) allows to happen: As we declare it, we begin to feel it. Sometimes even the posture of our body will actually guide our heart, which is one reason we are commanded to raise our hands and shout in worship.
When I kneel in prayer, I feel submissive. When I raise my hands, I feel surrendered. When I open my hands, I feel needy.
The posture guides the heart.
Worship is not a depiction of our feelings, but a declaration of our faith. It’s a defiant declaration that “I am not how I feel. My life is not what circumstances may make it look like it is. What God says is true is true, and I am going to act like it.”
Worshiping despite our feelings is a fight, but it is a godly fight. And it is a fight for joy.
Choosing to fight for joy is never more important than when we are walking through a season of deep suffering. When we suffer, it is very easy to allow our circumstances to define us and become our identity: “I’m a kid without a dad.” “I’m terminally ill.” “I’m a divorcee.”
In those moments, worship is a declaration that while suffering may be a part of our story, it’s not our whole story.
And it’s not the end of our story.
Worship re-centers our identity on who we are in Christ and defiantly declares the victory we have in him. It re-narrates our lives in the better, truer narrative that God provides.