Tuesday, September 8, 2009

happy-clappy...

Recently I (Amy) have been reading through the Psalms, and I've been struck by something.

Most of us know that the Psalms are lyrics to actual songs that would have been sung in ancient times- kinda like the first hymnal or songbook, right? Well, as I've been reading through many of them, I'm coming across words that would
NEVER, and I mean NEVER top the charts of ANY contemporary Christian station... (here's just a quick few I found while flipping around)

  • "the darkness is my closest friend."- Psalm 88:18 (wouldn't that make a great praise chorus?)
  • "Your wrath lies heavily upon me, you have overwhelmed me with all your waves"- Ps. 88:7
  • "Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin"- Ps. 52:5
  • "You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us"- Ps. 60:1
  • "I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God."- Ps. 69:3
  • "Why have you rejected us forever, O God?" -Ps. 74:1
  • "May they [enemies] ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace"- Ps. 83:17
Get the idea? I mean, which one of us would go to church on Sunday morning and SING that kind of stuff? The array of EMOTIONS is so wide & expansive-- not only are these songs filled with adoration & worship of the True & Living God, but there's plenty of sadness, loneliness, bitterness, vengeance, and doubt as well.

And you know what? That is SO unbelievably encouraging to me. The Bible is telling me that I don't have to show up to church, put on a plastic smile, and sing happy-clappy songs. I don't have to pretend as if life is just one big party now that I'm a Christian. Certainly David didn't feel that way as he was writing these Psalms.

It seems like the songs that ARE topping the charts and filling up our worship services are primarily songs filled with one emotion: praise & adoration. Now is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Oh, He is certainly worthy of our praise & adoration for all of eternity! But when my "diet" of worship ONLY consists of songs that require me to conjure up happy feelings, what happens on those days when I'm struggling with doubt, loneliness, or sin? What about the day after a loved one dies tragically? What about the days where I don't even feel like I love God at all?

Here's where the Psalms come into play. They capture ALL of those emotions. ALL of our days- not just the happy ones. The Lord Himself saw fit to include in His revealed word, the Bible, songs of great lament and songs of doubt. He is big enough to handle all of my fickle feelings, and He encourages me to express them, too.

That's why I love the honesty of so many of the old hymns that have lyrics like...
  • "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love."-- Come Thou Fount
  • "He made me feel the hidden evils of my heart and let the angry powers of Hell assault my soul in every part."- I Asked the Lord
  • "In thy service pain is pleasure. With Thy favor, loss is gain."- Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
  • "But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail, I fear to call Thee mine. The springs of comfort seem to fail, and all my hope declines." - Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul
  • "Be still my soul when dearest friends depart and all is darkened in the vale of tears." -Be Still My Soul
  • "Just as I am tho' tossed about with many conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, o Lamb of God I come." -Just as I Am
Now please hear me out-- I'm NOT saying we need to be dark, depressing, or without hope in our worship! :) But the Psalms show us that we can be free to take all of the adoration AND all of the mess in our hearts before the Lord! Hallelujah! Now that's worth some praise. :)

p.s. if you're interested in looking up any of those hymns I mentioned, you can find music to them on the RUF Hymnbook online.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks a million for your excellent sermonette. Your message brought to mind a line in my book on page 242 where I state 'this change will require more than praise bands and informal services where you can come to worship in your jeans or shorts.' Hymns of substance will move more people to God than all "happy songs" in my judgement. Give your people the "whole load." Grandpa Barnett

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  2. Thank you for posting this. What more can I say?

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  3. I just sat through a mini sermon this afternoon, which basically said, "cheer up and smile because you're a christian!"
    How good it is, to hear balanced truth. Thank you, thank you for sharing your heart.

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  4. Excellent thoughts. You might want to listen to a couple of Jim's sermons at www.providencepca.org - May 24 and June 28. As I recall, the one on May 24 mirrored a lot of what you said. Also, look at the hymn following the sermon on June 28 (notice the author). I do have one question, though. Why did you never teach us "Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul" while you were here?!! It's an incredible hymn. I'll be suggesting that one to Brian. Love to all - Brenda in Lubbock

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