Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Better Than A Hallelujah

My friend Pam sang the Amy Grant song Better Than A Hallelujah on Sunday morning at church. As I played keyboard with the band, I was contemplating the lyrics.  The very first line in the song says,

"God loves a lullabye, in a mother's tears in the dead of night, 
better than a hallelujah sometimes."

I don't know a mom out there who can't relate to that.  There is nothing like motherhood to bring out the most raw parts of your soul before God.  The chorus of this song goes on to say,

"We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody.  Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts...
are better than a hallelujah."

I've been thinking about those words. "Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts."  You know, it really is okay to be honest with God.  Hebrews 4:16 says we can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need.  God wants us to come to Him openly when we need His help.  In Matthew 11:28-39, Jesus says "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls."

It's okay to have questions and cry out to God.  The book of Ecclesiastes is filled with questions. Even Jesus, who knew and obediently fulfilled His purpose here on earth, asked a poignant question at the peak of His pain and suffering on the cross.  Do you remember those words He cried when the sins of the world were upon Him?  "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mark 15:34).  He was actually quoting Psalm 22, a Psalm filled with prophecy about the coming Messiah's agony and the theme of which is great suffering to great joy.  David would endure great suffering and trial but ultimately have victory, just as Jesus endured the suffering of the cross for our sake but had victory over the grave.  My study Bible says of this cry, "It was not a cry of doubt, but an urgent appeal to God."  I think most of us, like David and Jesus the Messiah, have urgently appealed to God in a time of pain and suffering.

It's okay to not understand.  God and I have been spending quite a bit of extra time together the past few months.  It's been a good thing.  He has let me cry, and I've come to cherish Psalm 56:8 and Psalm 34:18.  He has let me ask my questions about things I don't understand, and has made me realize not everything is meant to be understood.  Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to God.  Sometimes we won't understand things like self-destructive choices, betrayal, or loss. Sometimes life's circumstances will not make sense to our earthly minds.  

But it is often in these times that we learn to really trust.  And we learn to cry out honestly and authentically, depending on Someone much greater than ourselves to get us through.  Being a mess really can transform us into something more beautiful. I think God finds our brokenness very becoming. After all, His Son experienced the ultimate brokenness, and who could be more beautiful than Jesus?

I don't know who is reading this.  I don't know if you walk closely with Jesus or have never even spoken to Him before.  I don't know if things are clipping along smoothly in your life or if you feel like a mess, perhaps a not-so-beautiful one.  Wherever you are, know that God is waiting to talk with you.  He has room for honesty, questions, tears, and authenticity.  In fact, I believe that's what He desires from us when we come to Him.  He knows us inside and out anyway.  So when we come to Him with honest cries from breaking hearts, I have to acknowledge this is "better than a hallelujah sometimes."

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