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Do You Have to Sing in Church if You Don't Want To?

DiAne Gates

The melody of the praise chorus wafted down the hallway before I reached the sanctuary—and my heart grumbled. A praise chorus was the last thing I wanted to hear this morning, much less sing.

Don’t they have any compassion? I wondered how many others, just like me, came to the sanctuary each Sunday morning with heavy hearts. Hearts full of grief and gloom, and yet I’m supposed to sing like nothing’s the matter? Yeah, right!

“They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed” (Psalm 107:27-29 NAS).

Why should you sing in church?

Once inside, the tempo changed and the familiar chords of Amazing Grace filled the building with that sweet old hymn; thoughts of bolting out the door flashed through my mind. Of all songs this morning—tears rushed to my eyes and trickled down my cheeks—Daddy’s favorite hymn.

The knot in my throat grew beyond-swallowing-size. First Daddy, Lord, and now Michelle. The knot swelled. And her birthday’s this week. I stood like a stone statue wrestling to hogtie my emotions, my hand digging in my purse for the Kleenex stash I’d come to depend on since our daughter’s death, wishing I were anywhere but in the Sanctuary.

But the words to the last verse rang in my ears: When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than we first begun. In spite of the tears and the raspy sounds groaning off my tongue, I managed to join the congregation repeating—Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me—and release and relief flooded my heart.

The lady standing next to me slipped her arm around my shoulders in a warm hug, and we sang and wept together.

What storm prevents you from crying/singing to the Lord in your distress?

Sacrifice of praise—what’s that? 

This transpired over 16 years ago, but I still remember driving home that Sunday when the realization washed over me… I had offered my Father in Heaven a sacrifice of praise! And He heard and answered the pain in my heart, covering me with His emergency room blanket of comfort! 

Oh, the lessons God teaches when we’re willing to obey. Singing had been buried on the bottom of my throw-away pile during the year following Michelle’s death—and I’ll confess, some mornings since then too, but I’ve learned when I don’t feel like singing… especially when I don’t feel like singing… that’s God’s Spirit signaling… I must sing.

I will choose to trust you, Lord.

One night a few months ago, overwhelmed with fear and loneliness—my husband was out of town—something woke me up. I searched the house, found nothing, but fear grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. I pushed the play button in my memory labeled "unrealistic expectations," tossing, turning, and rehearsing all the secondary losses the death of our daughter inflicted on family relationships. And I was a mess. 

I cried out the Lord Jesus, “I know you tell me not to be afraid, but I’m scared. Nobody cares about me anymore.” The song Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” answered in my heart. I lay in the dark singing, again and again. 

Next thing I knew, it was morning. Jesus calmed my fears, silenced disturbing thoughts, and wrapped me in His comfort when I sang the truths of His Word.

Does God really give me comfort when I sing to him? 

“Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6 KJV).

My father and daughter no longer have earthly breath—but I do. This Scripture tells me singing’s not a choice. It’s a necessity. Sometimes we sing out of the joy and the peace in our souls. Other times we sing from the despair smothering our hearts—offering up the sacrifice of praise to our Redeemer. But a sacrifice costs the bearer something, or it isn’t a sacrifice. God knows your heart and mine, and He promises to meet us at our point of obedience to Him.

Many of you aren’t struggling with the loss of a loved one, but you’re struggling. Maybe over the louder-than-we’d-like praise choruses. Or the fight you had with your husband on the way to church. Your job, or your prodigal son or daughter. Whatever the reason, God stands ready to receive your sacrifice of praise, so he can pour out his comfort to your hurting soul.

What other Scriptures say we are required to sing? 

 “And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem, kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 30:21 KJV).

Singing has been an integral part of worship by God’s people since the beginning. Not just in church, but every day. Everywhere. Melody and music are gifts from our Creator God. Can you imagine a world without music? 

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre; with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn. Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord” (Psalm 98:4-6 NAS).

God is the Creator of everything that exists—even music and singing. And every time that voice in your head says, “I don’t want to sing,” ask, “Would God be saying that to me?” Or are they words from the enemy, whose goal is to lure you into defying or ignoring the Lord God Almighty? But your Father in Heaven loves you enough to allow you to make that choice.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing… Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him and bless His name” (Psalm 100:1-2, 4 KJV).

Please pray with me:

Father in Heaven, please grant me the ability to discern the voice of Your Spirit, and the willingness to hear and heed what Your Spirit whispers to me. Allow me to keep singing to You, regardless of my feelings… because You, in every situation, are worthy of all my worship and praise. Amen.

 

DiAne Gates illustrates and writes fiction for children and YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order as evidenced by her blog Moving the Ancient Boundaries. DiAne worked as a photographer and writer for the East Texas Youth Rodeo Association magazine, and had the opportunity to be in the rodeo arena, giving birth to her western rodeo adventure series, ROPED, (available on Amazon), which was named #5 in the Top Ten Reads for Christians Teens and Tweens. The sequel, TWISTED, will be released by Prism in July 2017. She also facilitates GriefShare, an international support ministry for those who’ve lost loved ones. 

Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Highwaystarz-Photography