Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the king who sings blues

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed over him," lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.   (Psalm 13:3-4 ESV)  

"My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me."  (Matthew 26:38) 

"What must be said … is that the Psalms are poems, and poems intended to be sung: not doctrinal treatises, nor even sermons. … Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems; as lyrics, with all the licenses and all the formalities, the hyperboles, the emotional rather than logical connections, which are proper to lyric poetry. They must be read as poems if they are to be understood.  (C. S. Lewis,
Reflections on the Psalms)

In Romans 8 we learn that creation “groans,” (stenazo word group, "to groan or sigh with deep concern or stress"), lamenting its fallen-ness and death (8:22).  We too groan inwardly (8:23), desperately longing for full liberation as children of God.  Then -- and this is a bit of a surprise -- the Holy Spirit himself "groans" (8:26), "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  This shows us that, not only does creation groan, and we ourselves groan, but the Holy Spirit himself comes beside us, singing our lament, sighing for God’s kingdom to come in its fullness.  (This word for groaning / sighing was also used of Jesus in Mark 7:34.)

"Thus, Christians do not say to God, 'I do not understand you at all, but I trust you anyway.'  That would be suicidal.  Rather, they say, 'I do not understand you in this  situation, but I understand why I trust you anyway.'  It is therefore reasonable to trust even when we do not understand.  We may be in the dark about what God is doing, but we are not in the dark about God."  (Os Guinness, Unspeakable)

"At the hospital, it was not the medical staff, grateful as I was for them, but the crucifixes—in the lobby and in the patients' rooms—that provided a total account of my condition.  In that cruciform image of Christ, the combination of physical pain and the assurance of a life greater than death gave objective expression and meaning to the sense of promise and transcendence that lived within the midst of my suffering.” (James Loder, The Transforming Moment)

“At the center of the Christian faith is a Cross that is not alien to tragedy, and a savior not complacent in the face of suffering.  Christ is not blind to the pains of the world nor passive aggressive in the face of despair.  On the contrary, the Cross is a portrayal of passion, not passivity… Christ does not refuse our sense of tragedy or awareness of pain.  He bears it in love, affirming our condition, carrying our sorrows to the end, all the way to the heart of God.”  (Jill Carattini)

Ultimately, our sorrows are designed to bring us to the Lord.  God is the author of all righteousness, life, truth, peace, friendship, joy and community.  When we lose any one of these blessings we grieve for that which only God can give and preserve.  We therefore sing with confidence (blues + hope) not because of some private wish fulfillment, but because we have come to believe that our deepest sorrows are actually deep yearnings for God himself and his Kingdom. And these good things will be restored to us through Jesus Christ.  Our hearts are being shaped after God’s heart when we let our sorrows drive us to God himself, and to yearn for his kingdom to come in its fullness.  Sorrow begins to mature us when we see that what we really want is Him!

How to write a biblical blues song: 

•    First stanza… Call upon the Lord and tell him how you really feel.  Do not rush past this stage.
•    Second stanza… Ask him for what you need. Call on him to intervene, to step in and do what only he can do.
•    Third stanza… Proclaim your commitment to trust him no matter what.  Ponder the wonder of the cross and empty tomb.
•    Fourth stanza… Praise him for what he’s done and will do.  Realize that what you really need is God himself. 

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