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What a Beautiful Name: Worship through Grief

What a Beautiful Name: Worship through Grief

Editor’s note: Most of us know Anne Wilson from her powerful worship music. Songs like “My Jesus” and “Something About That Name” have led us to raise our hands and praise Jesus together no matter what we are going through. In her new book “My Jesus”, Anne shares her journey through suffering and tragedy after the loss of her brother and how their family chose to worship Jesus in the midst of their grief. Enjoy this excerpt.


I stood from my seat on the front pew and began to walk to the piano onstage. I took one slow step after another up the red-carpeted stairs, a shaky nervousness filling my body. It was the same sensation I’d felt for days, only magnified. I reached the piano and turned to look out across the sea of faces in the crowd. Friends and family members looked back at me with tears in their eyes. Had I not been feeling such a dark sense of loss, I would have been thrilled to see so many loved ones gathered in such a majestic place. It was beautiful, but I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of it. I was overwhelmed by both the ache of goodbye and seeing hundreds of people staring at me. A few friends gave me encouraging nods as I took a seat. It was time to worship my Jesus.

I took a deep breath and smoothed my dress to calm my shaking hands. I was about to sing for the first time in front of twelve hundred people. Would I even be able to make it through? Would my hands stop shaking enough to let me play?

As I gently placed my fingers on the keys, I looked up to God for a brief second, imploring Him for help. At that very moment, God removed every nervous feeling from my body. The fear and worry were gone. I looked at my fingers and saw steadiness — the shaking was gone. Thank You, God! With a heart suddenly at peace, I took in a deep breath and prepared to sing.

As Carson, Hayes, and I began to play the intro to the song, I heard God’s voice again. His words, interjected at such a pivotal moment, would change my life completely:

  • Anne. This is what I’m calling you to do. I’m calling you to praise and worship My name.

I had no doubt the voice was the Lord’s. I will never forget those words.

With a confidence that could only come from God’s Spirit, I began to play and sing “What a Beautiful Name,” a song that magnifies the powerful, wonderful name of Jesus. The song speaks of His longing for us to join Him in heaven and tells of His victory over death and the grave. The song was a cool drink of water to my parched soul, and I prayed it was the same for everyone who heard it that day.

That day, I sang for Jacob, and I sang to worship my Jesus. Without tears, without stopping, and without breaking down, I offered my song for them both. The ability to sing such powerful words at such a sorrowful time without breaking down was only possible through God’s strength and His Spirit. Now, more than ever, my family and I wanted to praise the name of Jesus. We all realized in a terrible and wonderful way how short life really is and how it can change in an instant. We longed to tell the world of the hope found in Jesus’ beautiful name. I knew that was what Jacob would want, too.

I lifted my fingers from the keys as the final notes of my song rang throughout the sanctuary. I exhaled a deep sigh of relief. The faces I had just feared were smiling at me through tears. Many held tissues to their eyes.

As I returned to my seat, God impressed another thing on my heart: I would never be an astronaut.

I have called you to a life of worship through music, He said.

I could never have imagined that God would speak to me about my future at such a moment, and even less that He would call me to a life of music. But somehow, I just believed Him. In that moment, I had no doubt the Lord would fulfill this calling on my life. I knew that meant I wasn’t going to be an astronaut, and I was okay with that knowledge. In the aftermath of losing Jacob, the dream of being an astronaut didn’t seem important anymore. With Jacob in heaven and a huge hole in my heart, I barely had a will to live, much less to pursue the dream of going to space. I did not feel even an ounce of grief at the thought of leaving that childhood dream behind. I actually felt peace. The desire to go to space was simply gone.

Losing Jacob changed everything, including my dreams for my life. I now knew I would have a future in music, worshiping and praising the name of Jesus. God must have given me a gift of faith to accept such a sudden change in direction and believe that He would fulfill that calling. I had no idea how or when His new plan for me would happen or what that calling would entail.

I just knew it would be. Someday. Because God said so, and I believed Him.

Excerpted with permission from My Jesus by Anne Wilson, copyright Anne Wilson.

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Your Turn

In grief, we can still praise. In fact, worshipping God in the lowest of lows and clinging to Him through it, is sweet perfume to Him and saving grace for us! Whatever you’re going through today, stop and turn your face toward the One who is with you! ~ Devotionals Daily


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