I have never really been a “music person”. I listen to it. I like it. But I don’t need it.
The only time I consistently listen to music is when I run. I’ve been out running two or three times since Chai’s death, and I have found a couple of songs that have been a comfort to me and helped remind me of truth.
1) The Garden- by Needtobreathe.
I had just begun listening to this song quite a bit before Keva went into the hospital. The song is about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane just before the arrest that led to his brutal beating and death on the cross. Here are the lyrics.
“Wont you take this cup from me,
Cause fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
I pray you’ll save their souls with it.
“Let the songs I sing
Bring joy to you
Let the words I say
Profess my love
Let the notes I choose
Be your favorite tune
And, Father, let my heart be after you
“In this hour of doubt I see,
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale”
In particular, this song reminds of the gospel pattern. The fact that glory does not come without pain. But it also reminds me that pain still hurts. It’s still scary. It’s still difficult. In the garden, Jesus readily admitted to the Father he would prefer not to go through the pain of the cross. He was, in a very real sense “afraid”. Not afraid that ultimately the cross would not work toward good and salvation, he knew that. He is God. But the pain and the suffering were very real. Jesus did not pretend like the cross was a piece of cake. He didn’t “keep his chin up” or talk about how “it wasn’t that bad”. He wept in the garden. He pleaded for another way. Ultimately, he surrendered to the necessary suffering because he understood the outcome of the cross….resurrection, for him and all those who trust in him.
2) Far Away- Lecrae
I downloaded this song for Micah, looking for something he could listen to on the IPOD he got for his birthday back in May. I was introduced to Lecrae’s music in mid June via a CD that a friend put together for us for a baby shower for Chai. Micah loved the couple of songs he heard, (and I did too) so I went looking for more. I found this song. It was written (or re-released) following the Haiti disaster. You can find the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rerU_NYwD8
The song expresses so much of what Keva and I are feeling now. It is much like the prophets, particularly Habakkuk. The injustice that surrounds him prompts him to question the work of the LORD. “How long shall I cry for help and you will not hear?”- Hab 1:2. By the end of the book, Habakkuk confesses that he “will take joy in the God of his salvation”- Hab 3:18. What happened between Chapter 1 and 3. The pain didn’t stop. The injustice didn’t stop. He was simply reminded of the record and character of God. Who God is became supreme over his circumstances.
This song by Lecrae has helped me to realize that hurting is not evil. In fact, if it doesn’t hurt, it isn’t suffering. I think sometimes Christians think suffering well means smiling a lot. No, that is called lying. Of course, neither Keva or I are constantly downtrodden, but there still lingers a sadness, sometimes great, sometimes faint…but it is there. It does not overtake us, but the pain is very real. Lecrae expresses that kind of pain very well. Even though I know God is not “Far Away”, I can readily admit that my circumstances seem to indicate that he is. Ultimately, I choose to believe his promise over my circumstances.
The presence and comfort of God through his promise to resurrect and renew does not make pain and suffering not hurt. It gives us the impetus to not be overcome by sadness and despair. In a word…hope.
3) How and Why- Wes Walters
Finally, a friend of ours from our days in Tennessee (now ministering in Buffalo, NY) was inspired to write a song when he heard of Chai’s life and death. We were deeply moved by this and wanted to share it. The lyrics echo the same sentiments as Lecrae and Needtobreathe. Pain doesn’t disappear with hope, in fact it teaches us to hope.
Here are a few of the lyrics:
“It’s why a sunset falls, it’s why a tree is a home
It’s why a sea is alive, it’s just why
It’s why a mom goes to bury a son
And then carries on, then shares a song
It’s you, you, you, it’s you
Knowing the how and why I’m gone
It’s you, you, you, it’s you
Showing me how to come back home
It takes two things to make a cross
It’s not just wood. It’s pain and loss
If it wasn’t for grief, I wouldn’t know love
It’s just how I learn, It’s just how I learn”
I am very thankful for the many ways God has used his church to minister to us during this time of great pain. These songs represent a small but significant part of that comfort. Listen and learn.