Choose to Sing Into the Darkness

Sun shining through trees - black and white. Choosing to sing brings light into darkness.

The last few months, I’ve been struggling in a dark season that has stripped away my joy. I feel as if I’ve been wandering in the wilderness. Change lurks on the horizon. Many of my friends are getting married and moving away. Death and suffering are wielding their blades on those around me. The world looks dismal, and my own sin nature is raising its ugly head.

After listening to me share where I’m at, a friend asked me, “Have you been singing? Find a way to put singing into your day—see if that helps.”

To be honest, when she said that to me, I felt like the Israelites who said, “how can we sing the songs of Zion when our nation has been captured?” (Ps. 137:3). How can I praise God when I feel like He has abandoned me? How can I praise the One that seems to take away everyone that I love? Where is the place of joy when I feel condemned to a life of perpetual loneliness?

Choose to Sing in the Pain

That’s when I found solidarity in the Psalms. The authors of the Psalms were not happy, go-lucky people with no problems. Rather, they wrote out of a heart of deep suffering and anguish. But despite their pain, a thread of hope runs throughout the book, a “no matter what happens, I will still hold fast to God” kind of hope. I can hear wrestling in their words:

“Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! . . . The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34: 9, 18)

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:25-26)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . . . Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me . . . .” (Ps. 23:1, 4)

This is what I hear: “Fear the Lord, you will have no lack, but you may have a broken heart. God is your strength and fulfillment, but your body and emotions may give out on you. This is what is true—the Lord is my shepherd—but walking through the valley may also be real.”

In the midst of deep pain, the psalmists write songs to God. It’s not wrong to mourn, but we need to remember to sing, because God is always good—even when our hearts don’t feel it.

The Blessings of Choosing to Sing

Right now, I’m challenging myself to sing into the darkness. I can sing “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy praise” through tears and “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart” in absolute desperation. Those songs have become so familiar, that at times, I forget that the hymn writers suffered too. The truth of their songs are for hard days, not just perfect Sundays. Their words can counsel our hearts in the midst of darkness.

So often, I stand in church, forcing myself to sing words that my mind and heart struggle to agree with. But hearing my Christian brothers and sisters singing encourages me. They believe the words. They all know the truth, even though the darkness is making it hard for me to see it. Whether they know it or not, they are holding fast on my behalf. They teach and admonish me in their praise to God (Col. 3:16). And I’m sure that my singing does the same for them.

Will you join me in choosing to sing in this new year? Sing while doing household work or in the car. Sing in church. Keep singing the truth—and maybe our hearts will catch up and choose to praise God.

“I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!” (Ps. 34:1-3)