Intersection of Life and Faith

<< iPod Devotionals, with Dave Burchett

What Song Comforts You?

  • 2012 Jul 24

My friend Ed Underwood asked this question via social media. “When you are going through hard times what song comforts you?” I have been thinking about that recently as we are going through  some valleys in our lives. A song by Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my favorites at times like this. It is possible to write powerful lyrics without actually experiencing deep sadness and loss. But it is more impactful when you know the writer has experienced devastating trials and still remained faithful.

In May of 2008 Chapman's five year old daughter Maria was run over and killed on the family property. Her teen-aged brother did not see her playing in the driveway before she was struck. It was a tragedy of unspeakable sadness. I remember that my first thought was how could God allow this to happen to a couple who have done so much for the body of Christ? The answer is found in God's Word and it is not one that we generally put in the brochure. All of us who follow Jesus are going to suffer.

Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. (1 Peter 4, NLT)

Count me among the brethren who tried to dance around this truth for as long as I could. But fiery trials came into my life and I learned the truth of this passage. Steven Curtis Chapman released a CD (Beauty Will Rise) that chronicled his painful journey to reconcile this personal tragedy. It is raw, honest and powerful. The song that played on my iPod today is called "Jesus Will Meet You There".

When you think you've hit the bottom
and the bottom gives way
and you fall into a darkness
no words can explain
and you don't know how you make it out alive

Jesus will meet you there.

 When Chapman writes those words he is not postulating on theological theory. He is writing from the depths of unimaginable pain and recording the truth that he experienced as he allows us to look and listen. The lyrics continue.

When you've failed again and all your
second chances have been used
And the heavy weight of guilt and shame
is crushing down on you...

And all you have is one last cry for help
Jesus will meet you there.

It does not seem possible until you have experienced what Paul described in his letter to the Church at Philippi…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. People will tell Joni and me that they could not deal with cancer like we have or the death of a child like we did. My answer is always the same. We would have said exactly the same thing before we went through those valleys. We were given the grace and strength that we needed. So will you. Chapman's chorus gives the key.

He knows the way to wherever you are
He knows the way to the depths of your heart
He knows the way cuz he's already been
where you're going

Jesus meets you there and not in theory. He suffered. He agonized with God the Father. He knows the human condition. He has already been. When Jesus meets you there something amazing happens. The pain does not go away but peace and hope begin to slowly heal the pain. Peter did not end his writing on suffering with the buzz kill of Chapter 4. He wrapped it in a bow of incredible hope in the next chapter.

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. (1 Peter 5, NLT)

That is a promise that we can hold on to in times of sorrow and suffering. Mary Beth Chapman has this quote on her website. "Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude."

I am grateful to those saints who inspire us by living out their struggles authentically. And while I never wish for any suffering I know that I can make it through because of Christ. I know from hard experience and from watching other wonderful saints what Steven Curtis Chapman beautifully expresses.

Jesus will meet you there.

(Pastor Ed Underwood has written a powerful book on suffering that I highly recommend. Check out "When God Breaks Your Heart".)


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