Thursday, 9 October 2008

Tears

N.B. [This is very closely tied in with my last entry, please read them both with an attitude of understanding.] I wish I could cry sometimes.

This was the passage that they shared as Robin’s favourite verse last Wednesday. I thought it appropriate to share it with you now.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
the terrors of the grave overtook me.
I saw only trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
In my anxiety I cried out to you, “These people are all liars!”
What can I offer the Lord for all he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
I will keep my promises to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.

O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant,
Born into your household; you have freed me from my chains.
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfil my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people—
in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

I don’t know about you, but this passage really challenged me when I first read it through. Can we really commit to praising God when things are hard? Do we really say, “God is good!” when we feel only pain? I was planning a worship slot for Optimum-Weds when I came across this passage in a book a friend has only recently given me. I was trying to write a whole blog on this revelation that I have been experiencing firsthand in the last few weeks, but I thought that this section of the book actually speaks it a lot better than I could manage to:

"A while back I wrote a song called, ‘When The Tears Fall’. It was written at a time when life for me was hard. I’d taken a few knocks and suddenly my heart was filled with questions and doubt. One evening, feeling very low, I sat down and started pouring out my heart to God. The first line I sang out was, ‘I’ve had questions without answers. I’ve known sorrow, I have known pain.’ Immediately, I looked for a response. How do you follow a line like that? Well the answer is, look to Jesus. Everyone on this earth experiences pain, suffering, bereavement and illness. The only difference is that for those who believe that Jesus is Lord, we have a Saviour we can turn to and cling to.

But there’s one thing that I’ll cling to;
you are faithful Jesus, you’re true.

As I sang out of my pain and doubt, my soul found rest in Jesus. At first I concluded this was a personal song only for my own use. However, the more I pondered it, I began to realise that the sentiment and theme of this song was just as worshipful as any other; for there has to be a place for pain in the Church.

We need a bigger picture of what worship is. Questioning God doesn’t mean we are disobeying Him. Expressing doubt doesn’t mean we are lacking faith. In our everyday living, the people we’re most likely to share our deepest fears and questions with are those we most love and trust. It’s an intimate thing to be honest and raw with someone. It’s something that draws you closer to a friend. Expressing anger and pain in worship can actually be a beautiful, intimate thing. Dan Allender says,

"Lament cuts through insincerity, strips pretense, and reveals the raw nerve of trust that angrily approaches the throne and then kneels in awed, robust wonder...”

It’s easy to praise when everything is going according to plan. It’s more of a challenge when everything around us is falling to pieces. It takes great faith to say, ‘You are Good’ when life is incredibly hard. But God is good and forever worthy of our praise. This is not dependant on our feelings. Day and night, always the same, God deserves our highest praise.

We will find great comfort and healing in the Church by allowing space to be honest and real about how we really feel. To allow questions and doubts to rise, but in that place, to respond to God by worshipping His holy name"

"I will praise you, I will praise you
When the tears fall, still I will sing to you.
I will praise you, Jesus praise you
Through the suffering, still I will sing."

[Quote taken from "Inside Out Worship; by Matt Redman and Friends]
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