Monday, May 10, 2010

how can I sing. . .

when there is no song? Like the Israelites when they were taken captive, sitting beside the rivers of Babylon. They had hung their harps on the branches of the poplar trees and there they sat. How could they sing? (Ps 137:1-4)

The other day my daughter talked to me of feeling the same way. As one of the oldest in the youth group she feels a need to set an example - but she too feels caught in her "dark night of the soul".

I had no answers to give for I too am experiencing my own "dark night". What can I possibly say to her that will reflect authenticity? My inability to give her any guidance hung like a heavy cloud over my already darkened soul.

A few days later I picked up my Bible Study again (Beth Moore's ,Stepping Up: a journey through the Psalms of Ascent). I am ashamed to admit that a 6 week study has taken me nearly 6 months to complete; yet, I marvel at its timeliness for as I picked it up, these words spoke to me:

"Night services were often held in the temple courts in association with the feasts.... Remember how we pictured the lamplights of those small shelters pitched as far as eye could see on the hills surrounding Jerusalem? We may know about the nights o the feasts, but what about the nights of the soul?

By all means, we want to "cry out under" our "load of oppression" and "plead for relief from arm of the powerful" (NIV), but we also want to seek our God and Maker and ask Him to give us songs in our night.

As any song writer of our time and he or she will tell you that clearest and deepest words God grants the soul are often those that come in a dark season of life. One of the dearest treasures in your darkness will be the God-song He will give you if you'll receive it. To stand in the presence of the Lord when you'd rather to go to bed and never get up, and to praise Him in the night when taunting voices tell you to curse Him - these things are nothing less than a battle cry of victory. ...

Don't wait! Praise God the second you don't feel like it The second you feel defeated "Now!" Your tempter tempts you to praise God the least when you need to praise the most. A true psalmist praises his way to victory, knowing it will come because the praise itself renders the first blow to his enemy's brow. God's faithfulness then calls for man's gratefulness. Inherent in the call to 'bless Yahweh' is the cry to thank Him. In Karl Barth's words, "Charis always demands the answer eucharitia. Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightning."* **

I came to understand three things:
  1. The song must be sung. It may not be "my" song, but we do what we have come to do - and that is to praise Him
  2. In time, I believe that I (and my daughter) will once again have a song to sing that is mine - that is ours
  3. Until that time, there still is a song to be sung. God is faithful. He is unchanging. He is to be praised. It may not be the "song of my soul", but for now we do what we have come to do - and that is to praise Him.

How can I sing? no... I need to change my focus... In consideration of the One to whom we sing, the question that I must ask becomes, "How can I not sing?"

Photo courtesy of John Hutmacher & USDA Forest Service
* Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1961), 4.
** Beth Moore. Stepping Up (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2007), 165-166.


Steve Finnell said...

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Laura - Layers of Color said...

Thank you for sharing this deep and personal experience. In my darkest hours I have one thing to get me through, focusing on God. I pray for others and listen to praise music in those moments when getting through life is minute to minute. But God is faithful, when we stay close to him, to give us a new morning, transformation of our hearts and situation, promises to hold on to, truth to understand and love to comfort us. I pray these things for you and your daughter!


Jennifer Scull said...

I was thinking of you and wanted to pop by. your post has touched me deeply. I am praying for you and your family. you are loved, dear one! more than you can ever ever know.....