As a past worship leader, I appreciate, at least in a small degree, the importance and effort that goes into putting song sets together for the congregation. In the case of contemporary music, there’s rhythm and flow to be considered, as well as your team’s availability for that week, and hopefully prayerful discernment.
Of course, then I would break a guitar string in them middle of it all, and God shows His sense of humor…Not only does the string almost hit you in the face, but it throws the rest of the instrument out of tune, and naturally it can’t happen during practice, oh no, but during the set, in front of the congregation.
So then there’s life, well planned, even prayerfully so, and then…
…BOOOIIIINNNGGG! (And usually not in private, right?)
Kinda sounds like this worship leader from a long time ago. His name was Heman, an ancestor of Ezra, so he’s got an impressive Hebrew pedigree. The note at the beginning of his song reads as follows:
“A song to be sung to the tune ‘The Suffering of Affliction.’”
(…because that would certainly be a go-to for a Sunday morning.)
“O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out to you by day.
I come to you at night.”
Starts out okay, but kinda plays on that “out of tune instrument” from then on.
“For my life is full of troubles,
and death draws near.
I am as good as dead,
like a strong man with no strength left.
They have left me among the dead,
and I lie like a corpse in a grave.
I am forgotten,
cut off from your care.
You have thrown me into the lowest pit,
into the darkest depths.”
ETC, etc, etc…. Then he says this.
“Can those in the grave declare your unfailing love?
Can they proclaim your faithfulness in the place of destruction?
Can the darkness speak of your wonderful deeds?
Can anyone in the land of forgetfulness talk about your righteousness?”
Now, c’mon, how can he talk about God forgetting him (and worse) in one breath, and in the other speak of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness, His wonderful deeds and His righteousness??
Something tells me this is more about Heman reminding himself of God’s goodness, than reminding God to take care of him. Obviously, somewhere in his past, Heman has an intimate history with the Deity of his ancestors, as well as a working knowledge of God’s unchanging character leading up to this personal crisis. He’s hurting, but not hopeless. He’s frustrated, but in still fanning the flames of faith.
I find it most informative, and incredibly encouraging, that God has included Heman’s depressing little song of woe in the eternal Word of the Ages, alongside “the Lord is my Shepherd”, and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, and “those who live in the shelter of the Most High”, and “I will lift my eyes to the hills”. It allows me to be real with my Father Who art in Heaven, even though His name be hallowed.
He’s got big enough shoulders to cry on.
But then, there is plenty of reason to dry the tears also. Because, as Heman’s song shows by its very poetic construction, God’s “unfailing love, faithfulness, wonderful deeds, and righteousness” are in there, smack-dab in the middle of my mucky life situations (“grave, destruction, darkness and forgetfulness”)!
Like Heman’s predecessor and fellow hymn-writer (King David) penned, “yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me…” (Emphasis mine.)
And that’s something to smile about.
Psalm 88:1,3-6,11-12 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.