I can’t sing. Well, at least not without crying. Not always sad tears, but usually there’s some form of lament residing. It began as the day we would leave our church in New York loomed closer. Call me sentimental, but I kept imagining Sundays without our family there, surrounding me, voices lifted high in praise to the King. And without fail, the tears would come. So I’d just smile and listen. And the sound…it was glorious. Sometimes I could identify voices, but mostly it was the collective song that moved me to tears. Their joy was my joy. Their sorrow, mine as well. We were together. Their voices were one in agreement that Jesus is King. Whatever our lot, it is well with our souls.
Then we left, and Sundays weren’t the same. We’d gather with a wonderful, albeit temporary for us, body and I’d wonder what my family in New York were doing. What songs were they singing? What were their prayer requests? What were they sharing during praise and sharing time? Communion suddenly felt strange…without our body with us, partaking together. But the singing. It’s always the singing that beckons the tears.
There are a lot of deep theological reasons to sing corporately every week I’m sure…but lately when my family gathers with another unfamiliar body of believers and they all begin to sing, my voice cracks and my watery companions arrive again. As I’ve attempted to sing amongst strangers (and yet still brothers and sisters), I have have learned that sometimes, these fellow followers of Jesus are unknowingly singing on my behalf. And if everyone who hated the music portion of a Sunday morning were to skip it, or keep their mouths shut, those of us who can’t sing for the moment would be alone in our silence.
Sometimes, we just have to sing for those who can’t. We raise our voice for those who are unable to find theirs, for a season or for this side of eternity. We sing for the woman who lost her husband and is struggling to find joy in anything other than the deep guttural trust that Jesus is king. We sing for the student feeling utterly alone in a new place, unable to swallow the lump of loneliness in her throat. We sing for the family who has lost a baby and can’t form the words or find the tune just yet. We gather to sing praise, and as we raise our voices, we lift our downtrodden bothers and sisters. We carry their heartache with our melody. We fill their painful silence with both lamenting and rejoicing, and remind them that they too will sing again one day.
But in the meantime they are welcome to wait. Listen and be washed in the words of truth. Their hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. In times of trouble, they might not be able to say it, but they definitely need to hear it.
So from a former pastor’s wife who cries on Sunday mornings, show up and sing my friends. You never know who needs your voice to be theirs before the Father.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.