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When we come into God’s wonderful presence, it’s impossible to be chained to sadness. God is our joy and delight, and he removes our cloak of mourning and replaces it with a garment of praise.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
“And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness…only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 38:8-10)
I was at a worship conference, and within the first minute the team began playing, this image came into my mind. The worship was spiritual and true, and I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit wanting to release people from heaviness of heart (including myself) through it.
“…the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
So much of the “worshiping” we do in churches today falls short of being this kind of true and spiritual worship. This brought me heaviness of heart and a cloak of mourning, for I fervently long for the entire Bride of Christ to pour herself out in real worship to the Bridegroom.
Several months after this, I was earnestly seeking deeper intimacy with God, yet I could feel this cloak of mourning heavy on my shoulders. My spirit exceedingly longed to worship and draw near to God, but heaviness of heart and despair due to years of being held back from spiritual worship in corporate settings weighed me down. (Depression is often suppressed intercession).
There was a mighty battle in my soul, and then once again God brought this image to my mind. He beckoned me to go to the piano and to worship him with a song I had written called, “This is My Worship”, a song about giving up all that I am and all that I have in worship to God.
What a fight it was to get to the piano! I felt such a heavy heart and the voice of the enemy speaking despair and unbelief in efforts to keep me down, and yet at the same time, I felt so drawn by the Lord to come and worship him. I had to consciously choose to look past the enemy’s deterrents and submit myself to the Holy Spirit who was drawing me to worship Jesus.
Thankfully, God gave me the grace, and I began to worship. As I did, chains of sadness were broken from me and I cast off the cloak of mourning. I had truly come back to my heart’s most innate desire: to worship God and experience him intimately. This was the first in a series of major breakthroughs in worship and intimacy with God that were soon to follow.
I personally believe that heaviness of heart does not come from our circumstances, but rather, depression and heaviness of heart is ultimately rooted in not worshiping God with our whole lives. We were created to worship God as a continual lifestyle (Romans 12:1). If we are not continually living as worshipers of God, we are then, by default, living as worshipers of something else (usually ourselves and our own desires).
When we are worshiping God, our souls are where they are meant to be and so we have fullness of joy despite our outward circumstances (…whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, It is well with my soul’). On the other hand, if we are focused on ourselves, whenever our desires are not fulfilled we become depressed. Depression can also come in when we, lose sight of spiritual reality, which is intrinsically and exceedingly joyful for the children of God (that is, who we are in Christ and all the wonderful spiritual blessings he has bestowed upon us ( Ephesians 1:3)). (Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.)
However, if we surrender to God all that we have and all that we are in order to become a living sacrifice–our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1)–then we abide in God’s presence…and it is impossible to be depressed in his presence, regardless of our circumstances (See Psalm 22, Psalm 69).
While times of sadness are inescapable (for they are part of the normal human experience), depression is something we never have to live with, for depression is not for the saint. Worship is what casts off the cloak of mourning, for Jesus came to give us “…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3).