Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
November 15, 2020
When You Don’t Feel Like Singing
When I feel good and things are going my way, I feel like singing. I am a Christian and Christians sing. We sing because we are happy and free for we know His eye is on the sparrow. But when the bottom falls out, it is not easy to sing. So how do you sing when you feel like crying?
Before I try to answer that question, let me say a good word about crying. Crying is not bad; crying is good for you. When our little boy died, my wife did not start crying. Her sorrow was bottled up inside. Weeks went by and Dean became sick. Then a wise family doctor said to her, “Honey, if you don’t start crying, this grief is going to kill you!” She began crying and was soon well – without taking any medicine “to calm her nerves.” God created us with tear glands and tear ducts because our eyes require tears in order to function well every day. When trouble comes, our tears moisten the soil of the soul so that hope can grow within us.
There must, of course, be an end to crying because we are brokenhearted. The Psalmist David understood this. He admitted, in Psalm 42, that his tears had been “his food day and night,” but he realized he had to stop being downcast and put his hope in God. His sobbing turned to a “cry” for mercy. Then David rejoiced for God “heard his cry” for mercy and “put a new song in my mouth.” And that, beloved, is the answer! We can stop crying and start singing when the Lord’s healing touch produces a new song in our hearts.
David did not gloss over his pain and despair but in the Psalms his basic advice is to praise the Lord and give thanks for his lovingkindness. He urges us to “sing to the Lord and tell of his wonderful acts.” Such singing, even with a few tears in our eyes, helps us move through our heartache as the Lord is healing our hearts. When we determine to sing, the Lord helps us to continue singing as we sing through the pain.
I love the phrase, “He keeps me singing as I go.” It is in a song penned by Luther Bridges titled “There’s within my heart a Melody.” This is the chorus: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know, fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.” In the second verse Bridges reminds us of a great truth – that when life falls apart, Jesus can heal the broken strings of our hearts and put a redeeming melody in our hearts. That verse says it all: “All my life was wrecked by sin and strife, discord filled my heart with pain; Jesus swept across the broken strings, stirred the slumbering chords again.”
Across the years trouble and discord have often filled my heart with pain but time and again I have surrendered my pain to Jesus and he has put a new song in my heart. At 88 I am asking Him to do it again so I can continue to testify with Luther Bridges that He keeps me singing as I go.
Reading the Holy Scriptures helps me regain an eternal perspective. There is no doubt that Paul and Silas cried when they were stripped and beaten. Luke describes in Acts 16 how the two men were stripped and severely flogged, thrown into prison and their feet fastened in stocks. Yes, they cried in pain when they were beaten. But they stopped crying. And what Luke says seems incredible: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God”!
Stories like that stir me to believe that I too can sing when I am hurting. And there are so many songs that help us do what David said do – “sing to the Lord and tell of his wonderful acts.” When my burdens seem more than I can handle, I can sing “Jesus took my Burden.” Its chorus lifts my spirit: “Yes, Jesus took my burden I could no longer bear. Yes, Jesus took my burden in answer to my prayer; my anxious fears subsided, my spirit was made strong, for Jesus took my burden and left me with a song.” Yes, when I cry for mercy, He takes my burden!
A song like “Great is Thy Faithfulness” restores my soul. So often I have needed “pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.” I have needed his dear presence “to cheer and to guide.” I have needed “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.” And when I turned to Jesus, He met my need. I tremble when I sing the words, “All I have needed thy hand hath provided”! Oh, yes! His hand! His hand! Great is the Lord’s faithfulness!
When apathy stops me from singing, the Spirit gently reminds me to start singing the song that puts me back in the game. It is a simply song titled “Others.” Its words remind me why God sent Jesus into the world: “Lord, help me live from day to day, in such a self-forgetful way, that even when I kneel to pray, my prayer shall be for others.” One of the Lord’s “wonderful acts” is reminding us that when we reach out to others who need a word of cheer, our own broken hearts are being healed. God does not save us so we can go to heaven; he saves us so we can bring others with us on our way to heaven.
I dearly love the song, “Until Then,” by Stuart Hamblen. It reminds me that heartaches are stepping stones on the road to heaven. When my load is heavy, Hamblen’s words help me stop whining and start singing again: “My heart can sing when I pause to remember a heartache here is but a stepping stone, along a trail that’s winding always upward; this troubled world is not my final home. But until then my heart will go on singing; until then with joy I’ll carry on, until the day my eyes behold the city, until the day God calls me home.” Oh Yes!
Now, if you want a faith that can keep you singing, it all boils down to this: surrender to Jesus. That is the secret. When we surrender to Jesus, he begins living in our heart and gives us a faith that keeps us singing – until he calls us home. Salvation is in Jesus. Life is in Jesus. Either you are in Jesus or you are not. Either you are alive to God or you are dead in sin. And the only way to get in Jesus is by surrendering your life to him.
When you surrender to Jesus and let him live in you, and you live in him, he gives you the grace to keep on singing no matter your circumstances. You will find incredible joy in Jesus and you will find yourself singing, “He is Lord, He is Lord; He is risen from the dead and He is Lord! Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”
I have absolute confidence that if you surrender to Jesus, he will put a new song in your heart and give you the grace to keep on singing even when your cheeks are stained with tears. He has done it for me. He will do it for you. Glory! + + +