Understanding During Loss Is Not a Prerequisite for Worship

Understanding During Loss Is Not a Prerequisite for Worship

“…How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Romans 11:33

During loss, a spotlight is shined upon God and his ways. That is, if you’re looking. Yet, there is so much I simply do not understand about our loss or God’s ways. As Gordon Fort said at Kim’s funeral, “This is a mystery.”

I’m okay with the mystery now.

“God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform… Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace; behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face. …God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain.” William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

We can ask the “Why” question all day. But understanding everything is not a prerequisite to worship. In fact, understanding everything brings God down to a level that is not worthy of worship. Does that make sense? Any God we can fully understand, quantify, explain, and put in our boxes is not much of a God.

His judgments are, indeed, unsearchable. It doesn’t mean we don’t seek him. We do. But searching his judgments is a lifelong journey.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Note we will seek and find him when we seek with our whole heart. Seeking after him is different than seeking out his judgments. Worship is not contingent on understanding his decisions. Worship doesn’t include an “if-and-then” clause—if I understand, then I will worship. No! Worship is not conditioned upon his wisdom lining up with my desires, wishes, preferences, or hopes. His judgments are unsearchable, but he is searchable.

And he can be found.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33-34

It’s interesting that we don’t have more days filled with trouble than we do. We live in a broken and fallen world. I know of a few days in my life with trouble sufficient for the day. Through it all, we are given grace sufficient to lift our eyes to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. No need to be anxious.

No need to anxiously worry about his ways. His ways are, after all, inscrutable. They are mysterious and unfathomable. He is knowable yet his ways are unknowable fully. He’s beyond description. And yet, we seek.

“You have multiplied…your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us…I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.” Psalm‬ ‭40:5

Mark Altrogge wrote the song, “I Stand in Awe.” Every time I hear it or sing it, I hear it with a South African accent. I believe that is the first place I heard and sang that song. Altrogge captures this thought well that we worship Someone we do not fully understand:

“You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words. Too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love? You are beautiful beyond description, majesty, enthroned above. And I stand, I stand in awe of You; I stand, I stand in awe of You. Holy God, to whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of You.” Mark Altrogge, “I Stand in Awe”

Understanding is not a prerequisite to lifting our hearts and voices in worship. In fact, not fully understanding should inspire us to bow and tremble in silence before him. As Ligon Duncan has penned, “Our worship is ultimately rooted in his character, not our circumstances…We must never interpret God’s character by our circumstances. We must instead interpret our circumstances by God’s character.”

“Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” Psalm 96:9

“…ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” Psalm 4:4


  1. Tom Elliff

    This is your best, D.Ray, without question.

    Tom Elliff

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thank you, Tom. I sure do miss you. I need to see you when I’m our your way. Thank you for your part in my journey!

  2. Anonymous

    Absolutely!! Our worship, our awe of who HE is should not hinge on our understanding WHY we suffer loss …however, God is not disturbed nor disappointed in our questioning either… HE “remembers we are but dust…” Our “whys” are in company with so many of HIS beloved, David, for example… even Jesus asked the Father why he had been forsaken… I initially felt “less-than” when I questioned the whys of my husband’s death…of course, HE knew them before I voiced them to HIM or even myself, yet understood, and loved me none the less… that GRACE…it’s what eventually leads a grieving heart to less WHY and more to “teach me…” Thank you D Ray for always giving us perspective! Kathi B

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thanks, Kathi. I agree. He welcomes our questions but wants us to trust. As in “lament” he wants us to turn to him, complain to him, request of him, but trust him. That’s the huge difference. Question while trusting. Likewise, worship must accompany our questions. As God asked Job when he complained to him, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” I think I would fall on my knees and worship!

  3. Sonny Sweatman

    Thanks D. Ray! You are blessing is with your thoughts on facing loss! Love you brother

    • D. Ray Davis

      Thank you, Sonny. Great to hear from you.

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