When people see me in my wheelchair and ask about my persistent smile, I always say, “I’ve learned to sing my way through suffering.” Over the years, I have discovered that singing is not an option for Christ-followers; it’s a command. Whether Colossians 3 or Ephesians 5, we are not merely invited to sing; God tells us to sing.
Lately because of the coronavirus’ stay-at-home directives, my tiresome day-to-day disability routines are especially wearing me down. I have noticed over the past couple of weeks during quarantine, I have felt like caving in emotionally. It’s one thing to sit in a wheelchair or lying in bed at night with chronic pain, but COVID-19? I’ve found that my mind sometimes is so scattered, I cannot put two words together in prayer.
And it’s why as I have stayed home during this pandemic, I am singing hymns. The words come easily since I’ve memorized so many, such as “All the Way My Savior Leads Me.”
“All the way my Savior leads me,
cheers each winding path I tread;
gives me grace for every trial,
feeds me on the living bread.
When my weary soul may falter
and my soul a-thirst may be,
gushing from the Rock before me,
lo, a Spring of joy I see!”~ “All the Way My Savior Leads Me” written by Fanny J. Crosby
When my weary soul falters, singing is a way of turning my soul God-ward. Especially when affliction tries to drag me in the opposite direction. When my mind is in a brain fog, I can still express my confidence in Christ through hymns I know by heart. If I am not able to speak my praise? I can sing my praise. When I sing a hymn, the wise words—enriched by my whisper-of-a-melody—become my sacrifice of soulful praise to God. When we follow God’s command to sing, we receive the promise of Colossians 3:16.
We are assured that the word of Christ will dwell in us richly. For example, last Sunday when we watched the live stream of our church’s worship service, we sang “Come Thou, Almighty King.” Every stanza is a theology lesson that teaches us about the character of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Sitting in my wheelchair, each stanza became a reminder of the faithfulness of my high and holy God.
Suffering can so easily lead us down grim, dark paths of remorse, doubt and fear. Especially during a pandemic like this! But memorizing rigorous hymns of the faith is a way of learning the great Christian doctrines on which my convictions are founded.
When I am weak, “I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge in my day of distress” (Psalm 59:16 NIV). And when my suffering tries to convince me that I am helpless to do anything, Psalm 63:7 (ESV) teaches me, “For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy.”
Many years ago, after I got out of the hospital and began to be more hopeful, a friend showed me James 5:13: “Is anyone cheerful? Then let him sing praise.” That verse struck me! Here, God had reached down and rescued me from suicidal depression; why shouldn’t I sing?! And so, I am happy to sing his praise through my hardships. After all, I serve a singing Savior who, on the night he was betrayed; who, in that dark hour when he faced unthinkable pain and suffering sang a hymn with his friends (Mark 14:26).
In his darkest hour, Jesus Christ went to the cross singing. I am called to do the same as I daily pick up my cross and follow him (Luke 9:23).
Friend, even as we come up and out of coronavirus, you and I have every reason to be cheerful in Christ. So, join me in taking up the cross our Father has assigned us; join me in walking the blood-stained path to Calvary and… sing of your Savior, and sing to your Savior. It’s the beautiful melody that the Trinity loves to hear!
This article was originally posted on the Joni & Friends blog.
THE GOSPEL IN HARD TIMES: STUDY GUIDE WITH LEADER’S NOTES
The Gospel in Hard Times, by Joni and Friends, is a faith-bolstering small group resource that illustrates how suffering is a catalyst that can deepen our understanding of God’s plan.
Exactly what I needed to hear. Praise God. I’ve stopped singing. Oh, how it soothes the soul!
Thank you! “He keeps me singing”!
So grateful for the grace of God in your life Joni! Your suffering brings perspective to the eternal while living in the temporal.