“My mouth is filled with Your praise, declaring Your splendor all day long.” ~ Psalm 71:8
Yesterday morning as I was reading Psalm 71 I noticed a pattern of the psalmist crying out to God, begging God to rescue and him from the painful enemy attacks. Despite the heartache, despite waiting on God to change his circumstances, the psalmist sings praises to the Lord. Verse 15 says, “ My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of Your salvation all day long; though I know not its measure.“
Which got me to thinking, how in the world is it possible to sing when I’m in pain?
The idea that in my pain I should sing out to the Lord had me baffled. Because let me be real here, when my world comes crashing down, I’m in full mode emotion. Tears, anger, frustration, fear, I’m just like the psalmist, crying out to God begging Him for protection and relief.
So the idea of a person praising God in the midst of suffering rolled around my thoughts much like a pair tennis shoes thrown in a dryer. Ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise…ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump, pain, prayer, praise.
I couldn’t shake the idea I was missing something God really wanted me to understand. Combining pain and praise did not make any sense.
These thoughts were still spinning the next day as I drove over to meet a friend for a walk. On my car stereo the playlist from my phone shuffled from one song to the next.
Traffic inched to a stop and this song came on. My breath caught and tears poured down my cheeks.
This song is the only one I truly have associated with my dad. As if it were happening right this moment, a memory of me as a 5 year old little girl standing in the backseat of my dad’s sky blue Buick with white vinyl seats as this song played.
I remember his left arm resting on the top of the rolled down window as he gripped the steering wheel with his right, his little pinky, where he wore a silver band tapped out the beat against the steering wheel.
The warm summer breeze filled the car right alongside of the melody. For me, this was heaven. Just me and daddy singin’ this song. Time stood still for 2.5 minutes, frozen in my mind’s eye, forever.
Precious, sweet moments of a little girl who thought her daddy was magical, god-like, invincible. Daddy was a mixture of John Wayne swagger and Elvis’ good looks. The combination made him larger than life and I thought there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.
I was wrong.
He couldn’t beat death.
To hear this song for the first time since his death 9 months earlier brought a surge of pain so deep I couldn’t hold back the tears. This song reminded me instantly of what I’d tried to put out of my mind for the last 9 months.
Daddy was gone.
There’d be no more time spent sittting in the garage watching him rebuild a motorcycle engine. No more playing, “Name That Tune” every time a song came across the radio.
Death had taken my dad and left behind a chasm of pain so deep no amount of tears will ever fill it.
For a brief second as I was driving I honestly considered pulling over to just allow myself to cry. Flat out, bawl for the loss of my dad. Something I haven’t done since he passed.
The logical side of me shunned the thought of making my friend wait on me while I had a meltdown so I kept on driving and hitting the shuffle button. I was determined to find a song that would help change my frame of mind. I figured if one song could bring me to tears then certainly another could pull me out of the pain.
Then it hit me, wait a stinkin’ minute, isn’t that what the psalmist was talking about in Psalm 71?
I hit the shuffle button on my phone. I needed something to soothe my soul, take away the pain and make everything better.
Nothing fit the bill.
Not my favorite rockin’ 80’s music, not classical, not movie musicals, not even Christmas music. Every song left me feeling empty and worse than when daddy’s song played.
The psalmist said, “My lips will shout for you when I sing praise to You – I, whom you have redeemed.” Psalm 71:23
So there’s the key, songs of praise to God. Acknowledgement for what He alone has done in my life.
Time for more honesty, I didn’t want to sing praise music. I was knee-deep in heartbreak. It’s true this verse came to mind as I was crying over my dad, and I knew I should pull up my Praise and Worship music as the psalmist had done but, honestly, I just wanted the pain to stop.
I didn’t want an upbeat song, I wanted the memory of losing my dad and my deep heartache to stop.
I shuffled through dozens of songs and couldn’t find anything to fit the bill. Now I was beginning to feel worse than when I heard daddy’s song. Reliving my father’s death and the reality that nothing was taking the pain away amplified my hurt.
Finally, I gave in. I did it the psalmists’ way and I pulled up my Praise and Worship music. I found the one that spoke to my pain and to my acknowledgement of just how much I needed God and to His goodness.
Music is our way of singing to the Lord our thanksgiving for all that He has done in our lives. A way of remembering all that is freely given by way of His love for us.
In the end, by following the example of the psalmist, God took my pain and healed it with His love. A moment of desperation turned to praise.
My prayer for you is you will do the same. Only don’t do what I did. Don’t waste precious moments looking for songs that will gloss over your pain. looking for anything but praise to our Father to take away your pain. You will be sorely disappointed and hungry for healing until the moment you surrender your pain to Him and turn it over to praise for all that He has done in your life. He did so, for the love of you!
May we always be quick to turn our hearts and mouths to praise. Praise to our Father.
Until next time,
Blessings & Best Wishes,