When we stand before any audience anywhere, there is one thing at least that unites us: we are all “going through stuff,” and most of what we are going through is not pleasant. No, it is mostly painful, whether that pain is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Many times, it is all four, at least to some degree. Illnesses, for example, affect our relationships, our mental well-being, and our emotional state. These make us question God or lead us to cling to Him more, seeking His wisdom, trusting Him not to waste this experience but to somehow use it for some good and lasting purpose in our own lives or those of someone else.
Some of those to whom we sing have been taught harmful and untrue things about God and pain: that their loved ones were allowed to die or they themselves experience great loss or illness in order to punish them for some past sin, or that emotional agony was sent by God because they were not one of the “chosen few.”
So, not only are we called to sing the truth about the nature of God as revealed in Christ himself, but to dispel some tragic fears and doubts instilled in hearts long ago by ignorance, superstitions, or well-meaning error. Fortunately, we can trust the Holy Spirit, by His promised presence, to take the inspired songs and the truths in them and speak to hearts on both sides of the footlight correcting what is wrong, illuminating what is true, and revealing purposes never before recognized.
We all know this: that we were promised a great Comforter, and He has come to use every pain, failure, setback and loss for our ultimate and eternal good – both here and in the life to come. He who came to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Is. 61:1a – 3a) – He has come!
The pain we feel is not for nothing. The tears we shed are not wasted. The losses we know will be redeemed and our mourning turned to laughter.