Home > Faith is Hard > The Lament of Observation

The Lament of Observation

“You feel like your life is fading, you’re tired of waiting for your moment to arrive”

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past months consumed in the Christian music realm. Now, it is very rare when I enter into an extended amount of time listening to Christian music, primarily due to the lack of musical talent and originality in the mainstream Christian music business. But there has been one main theme that I have observed in the current Christian music culture that is baffling, or frighting, depending on your perspective.

The vast majority of lyrics that are circulating the airwaves and blasting our headphones are primarily interpreted for and/or from the hurting. In short, each of these songs are modern day laments. They speak to the hearts of those hurting, empty, yearning, dying, striving, failing, cursing, angry, mad, lost, wanting, etc. They identify with the lives searching for something better. The songs reach out to those caught in their own mess looking for help, or strength to carry on. Chances are, if you listen for a while yourself, you will be reminded of your own mess.

So, try it! Turn on the local Christian radio station and listen to the lyrics of the next three songs played. My bet is that at least two out of three of them will be familiar to what I just pointed out. In fact, I’ll help you. I have compiled a list of songs that fit this observation. Each of these songs have been on the Top 25 song list for Air1.com in the past month:

Hanging On by Britt Nicole  //  Dear X by Disciple  //  Light Up the Sky by the Afters  //  More Like Falling in Love by Jason Gray  //  About to Fall by The Wrecking  //  My Own Little World by Matthew West  //  Almost Missed This Moment by Revive  //  Something Holy by Stellar Kart  //  Lead Me by Sanctus Real  //  For Those Who Wait by Fireflight  //  Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North  //  The God I Know by Me in Motion  //  Keep Changing the World by mikeschair  //  Avalanche by Manafest

Now if you lost count, that is only 15 songs from the Top 25. You can even try this, at church this Sunday (assuming you aren’t upset at God and boycotting the communion of saints), observe the songs you sing in worship and notice how many are written from hurt and struggle.

“So, what’s the point? Most of the book Psalms in the Bible is made up of laments, too. We are in a dying world. Blah, blah, blah.”

Okay, so I admit it. Maybe this affects me a little more than it does you because I come from previous ministry experiences where hurting was not allowed. But surely, your experiences are different. By the way, this isn’t to “sucker punch” the past churches I served, it was just how things were done (I might receive a few emails…).

Pastor’s weren’t allowed to show hurt because they are supposed to be the model of hope to their congregation. One particular memory comes from my first 3 years in ministry when my Senior Pastor’s daughter – very active in the high school ministry – found out she was pregnant. Instead of having the option of leaning into his congregation for support and encouragement, my pastor had to hide his daughter from the church because the “Board of ‘Whatever'” believes this situation “is very inappropriate and pastor’s should be able to effectively lead their family or they should not be a pastor of their church.”

Another example, when facing extreme opposition in my own ministry to the point of manipulation, I found myself beat-up and exhausted from fighting. In fact, I looked on those people with the eyes of hate and contempt. Instead of confronting the issue, I was instructed to, “put a smile on your face and act as though nothing is wrong. Kill them with kindness.” Since when did the church get into the business of killing their own people (irony makes me laugh).

My observation is this. I believe that people have an amazing gift at forgetting that hurt and pain is just a part of life. We can put it in a song, play it on the radio and like it on Facebook, yet, when it comes to the reality of our Christian journey, “there’s no crying in baseball.” (What movie?) Suck it up, rub some dirt on it and walk it off. Or in Christian terms, leave it at the door, put a smile on and learn the phrase, “God is good!”

This is insane! I recall Jesus saying something completely different, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

In this world you will have trouble. There is no doubt about that. You’re child will spit up on you as you are walking out the door to work, you will run out of gas when you are late for a meeting, kids at school will make fun of you, you will lose your job, your dog will die, your favorite show will be erased because someone else recorded “Kate plus Eight,” someone close to you will pass away, life will just happen!

But instead of “walk it off,” crawl to Christ. And when you can’t crawl, scream for help! I mean He told us these things so we can have peace! Do you not want peace? I do. And just because He has overcome the world does not mean that we are not vulnerable to its pain and torture. It means that it simply doesn’t control us anymore.

And it doesn’t control us anymore because of our hope in Jesus who has overcome the world! And that is hope worth holding onto. And sometimes, we need others to remind us of that hope and help us to mend our wounds. But, to cover up the hurt and pain is…well…irresponsible.

I am curious, though, if the lyrics of our songs might be different if we didn’t hide our hurt so much. Maybe our churches wouldn’t seem so fake and superficial it we just excepted the fact that we are a bunch of people surrounded by hurt and pain (yes, even the pastor). Maybe our worship would be more passionate if we knew that the person next to us wasn’t comparing our hand-raising to the state of our heart. Maybe our neighbors would be more receptive of Christ if they saw His hope working in the midst of our hurt, instead our holiness. Maybe our children would find acceptance in the arms of Christ instead of judgment and condemnation because of the color of their hair. Maybe the “happy-go-lucky” Jesus would simple die and be replaced with a life-changing, grace-giving, Messiah that left his throne in heaven to be beaten and crucified. Maybe…maybe…

But until then, we still have our radios. And don’t worry, I am doing great! Have an amazing day!

Categories: Faith is Hard
  1. Harlan
    September 23, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Good stuff bro… I think this sort of thing plays out in a lot of areas. Even in friendships it’s sometimes easier to stick to the shallow, and avoid any sort of depth for fear that it might become uncomfortable.

  2. Bob
    September 23, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Not a problem between you two. Can’t tell you how proud I am of the men you have grown up to be.

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