Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Choosing" To Say "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord"

I hope I can accurately express my heart on this, and I hope that it will come through your computer screen as I intend it. What I have to say is not an easy subject to broach, and I recognize the delicacy of emotions involved.

WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES
We, as humans, have always had tragedy, from the "first couple" (no, not the Bushes-- I mean Adam and Eve) until now. One of their sons murdered their other son. All of Noah's society was washed away. Mary's perfect son was brutally killed. Countless martyrs gave their lives. Ours is not a history of faith without tragedy. Throughout the history of mankind, millions of people at a time have been slaughtered in various times, places, and for various reasons... race, religion, political disagreements, fear, and bigotry.

And in each of our personal lives, we will have tragedy strike... it's one of those things we can count on. Parents divorce, children fall into sin, and terrible things like miscarriages, affairs, and the death of those that we love can happen to any one of us. Some or all of these have affected or will affect nearly every single Christian man and woman.

I have recently heard people express how difficult songs like "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord" are to sing in times of tragedy or personal grief and sorrow. And I can understand the difficulty of it, particularly if paired with an upbeat groove and a chipper, toothy-grinned singer. That would indeed be difficult to bear at a moment of personal sorrow or loss. But there is something deeper that I want to address... and that is this:

It is not in the moment of sorrow that we should decide how to respond to sorrow.

It is not in the moment of grief and tragedy that we should figure out how to work through it. We should be preparing NOW for those moments... reminding ourselves NOW that when tragedy comes, God will still be the same as He was yesterday, and the same as He will forever be. We should be preparing our heart to say, "Blessed be the name of the LORD" in those most difficult moments. Cause, frankly, it's easy to say "Blessed be the name of the LORD" when your bills are paid, and your kids are all cheerfully singing "kum-ba-ya" in a circle with their arms linked and then skipping off merrily to do their chores, and your husband or wife is lovingly looking at you with adoration, and outside, the rainbow is shining and the birds are sweetly chirping on your freshly bloomed rose bush.

It is when we have just had a miscarriage, or when we have just been given dreadful news, or when something tragic has happened that it becomes much more of a choice of the will and of our faith to say, "Blessed be the name of the LORD". Those dark times are what reveal where our faith really lies. I have to admit that personally, I really like one particular part of the song I referenced above... because I think the lyrics accurately express what has to happen in those moments of sorrow. Here's what they say:

You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, "Lord, blessed be Your name."

I believe it will, in those moments, be an act of our will and an act of our determined faith to say, "Blessed be Your name, LORD". At any other time, it is easy to say those words. Even when things are just steadily plugging along, it is a very simple thing for the Christian to bless the name of God. But it is in those dark moments that we must actively choose to say, "God, I will bless you, knowing that You gave and You took away."

Job did this very thing. Remember?
Now there was a day when [Job's] sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you."

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.


We must choose this day how we will act on those days-- the days when we miscarry a precious baby, the days when we learn of the death of one we love, the days when we realize we are somewhere we never would have chosen to be, the days when something tragic happens. THOSE are the days when God will be honored when we choose to bless HIS name right in the middle of our sorrow and grief.

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