What is Worship From the Heart?

Boldly Facing Death – David Saadeh

Several years after the sudden death of our sixteen-year-old son, Mark, God seared into our souls a vivid image of the privilege of corporate worship within our covenant community (i.e., our circle of believing Christian friends) as described in Hebrews 10:25:

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

God gave our church the gift of thirty-seven-year-old David Saadeh, a man who had an indescribable thirst for intimacy with Christ and a longing to encourage others. We grieved with his family when they learned he had terminal brain cancer. Although David mourned the fact that the would soon say goodbye to his wife and young children, his visitors always left his presence feeling more connected to heaven.

Near death, blind, unable to stand, and barely able to move his arms, David insisted on sitting in his wheelchair near the front of the church for worship. One Sunday we began to sing the following words:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing Power and majesty, praise to the King; Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name. I sing for joy at the work of Your hands, Forever I’ll love, You, forever I’ll stand; Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

Our friend’s impending death made us keenly aware of the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Hebrews 12:1). We were weeping freely as we contemplated the day we would join all of heaven in praise to our God when, out of the corner of our eyes, we saw movement. David was struggling to rise from his wheelchair so that he could stand and lift his arms toward heaven. He told his wife, “I can’t sing this song sitting down. I must stand up.” Others began to weep as they realized his once healthy body would not obey. Seeing his struggle and knowing his determined heart, a man on either side of him – one an elder, the other David’s doctor – helped David to stand, raising his arms for him so that he could freely worship his God. In tears, the rest of the congregation rose to its feet. We sang with one voice and heart while the music swelled in loud continuous praise to God for His promises.

Like Aaron and Hur who held up Moses’ arms (Exodus 17:8-13), these two men strengthened David in his feebleness and helped him display his absolute devotion to God. Members of the Body were able to encourage one another with God’s truth as together they anticipated David’s “Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25) and witnessed a picture of our hope that special Sabbath.

That day, the church, the Body of Christ, reflected heart-felt worship overflowing with encouragement. David, our friend and brother, died just a few weeks later. His memorial service was an exclamation point for his earlier affirmation that the sovereign Giver of Life can be trusted, even in the face of certain death.

Written by: Charles F. Betters and Sharon Betters