"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
- John 10:10 (NIV)
This past Sunday, I went to a Christian benefits concert, Helping Hands, and I didn’t experience God.
“What Eric! That’s a profound statement to make!”
(Yes, I know it’s absurd to say! But let me clarify.)
For me, I love Helping Hands, and I was excited for the concert! I was looking forward to the worship songs, to experience all the time/effort the worship team spent in preparation for the concert (Btw gj guys! Was blessed 😊 ), and to hear the sermon by David Or which I felt would impart a lot of important truths about God and the Gospel.
But unfortunately for me, I wasn’t feeling it. I was a mess. I was unable to fully experience the whole concert. I was unable to sit still and pay attention to the sermon or fully engross myself in worship due to anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to have a full heart of worship, and in the end of the first session, I ended up leaving the front because I didn’t want people to notice — I had to silently wrestle with the absence of God.
During the second session of worship, I ended up crying out desperately on the ground for freedom because it became so bad. I was kneeling down and surrendering to God because I knew I definitely could not do it alone.
And I received no response.
Why? While the sermon was talking about joy and peace in the life God has to offer, I was crying out to God for joy and peace. I should’ve experienced peace.
Wasn’t I a testimony God was writing out? Here I am, a college student, having faced 2 years of “independence” in college and even participating in a missions project this past summer that finished 3 weeks ago. Didn’t I deserve some peace from God? Some freedom? I wondered, “Oh Lord, if you are not working in my life now, then are you even moving in the moment?” — If I’m unable to experience God’s presence and I’m not hearing His voice, then is God really there? Maybe the concert didn’t work. God had another appointment to take. The whole thing was just a sham. A well-rehearsed, yet lukewarm failure.
Except it wasn’t. In fact, it was none of those things.
(As a matter of fact, it probably was glorified even more since my pride was not fed ._.)
My own pridefulness had clouded what the event actually was. Looking at how I felt post-event, I recognized how selfish I was in believing the concert was all about me. Sure I experienced a lot of suffering and may not have personally witnessed God in the moment, but that does not mean that God was not moving during the concert.
The truth is, I myself do not need to experience God to know God works powerfully. He works miraculously in other’s lives — friends who praised God boldly during worship, students burdened to pray their hearts out to God, the pastor sharing the importance of loving and investing in people, children of God who feel convicted to confess their sins — the tears of joy of remembering the first love God had for us.
And there I was running away from the whole situation.
I am blessed to recognize that God is complicated and magnificent in the way He works — God works without us. In fact, it is a privilege to take part/experience His glory in how He works, whether we’re praising Him on the tips of our toes, or lying on the ground hardened to emotion (the 2nd is harder to reconcile). It must be understood that He moves in everyone’s lives. He doesn’t require that an event only work for our sake. God uses everything for His glory, and He also works in EVERYONE.
Yes, God is a personal God and He has a relationship with us. But even more so, He has a relationship with everyone — He works in that beautiful way for everyone.
With this revelation in mind, I can boldly say that though God may not have worked personally for me in any way at the concert, God worked powerfully and joyfully at the concert. It’s not just one testimony, but everyone’s testimony. Go out and listen to them. Hear other’s experiences, and you will witness how God works.
Honestly though, God works without you.