May 27, 2009
I was reminded last week how real our tough times are and how necessary to love each other well through these times. I’ve wanted for a while now to make an iMix with songs to aid our worship of God through these times. Julie gave me a deadline last week, wanting to give it to a friend who is in the midst such times. We spent the late hours of the evening listening to the mix before we drifted off to sleep. As I listened, I felt two things – the pain shared by my friends whom I know are in the battle right now, and a surge of faith that comes from knowing that our God is good and will carry us through these times. I am thankful for my friends who display faith and hope through the hard times of life. They give me reassurance that I can do it too. I’m also grateful for the songwriters that have produced these songs that draw the troubled soul to take refuge and find strength in God. But most of all, I am grateful for our Great God who is so good.
This iMix corresponds with our recent “Tough Faith for Tough Times” sermon series through the book of James. I encourage you to check out our Pastor Gary’s messages at our website, James: A Tough Faith for Tough Times.
Tough Faith for Tough Times iMix Notes
By W.T. Born
1. Come and Listen by David Crowder (A Collision)
“Let me tell you what he has done for me.” I love the hope presented in this wonderful song of praise. It comes from Psalm 66 that declares, “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Psalms 66:16-20 NIV) We begin with the hope and assurance that our God is good and that in trusting him, he will answer our prayers, lavish his love on us, and we will be able to tell others what he has done for us.
2. Take Heart My Friend by Fernando Ortega (Fernando Ortega)
We are never alone! Not only does our God promise that he will never leave us or forsake us, but he also gives us each other to uphold us with this truth when we doubt it. Each verse of this song is packed with reminders of who our God is and what he does. He is, “our assurance every morning and our defender in the night.” What a beautiful thing a godly friend is to us during tough times.
3. Carry You by Amy Grant (Rock of Ages … Hymns of Faith)
In times of trouble we must realize that we are children with a loving and faithful Father. There is a wonderful promise that God gives to his people. “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4 NIV) We are also commanded to “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalms 55:22 NIV) This song invites us to let go and let God carry us and our burdens and reminds us of the wonderful works of the Lord that prove that he is able to do it.
4. Hosanna by Paul Baloche (A Greater Song)
“When we see you we find strength to face the day. In your presence all our fears are washed away.” I cling to every phrase in this song! It is so packed with the truth that our God saves – that is the meaning of “Hosanna.” It is really a shout of, “God save us,” as well as a celebration that he is our Savior. God’s saving work in our lives is a wonderful thing. Our need is to turn to him and to see him. God’s Word is the lens through which we truthfully see him. It is through his Word that our hope is stirred and our hearts and broken lives are made new. While this can and should happen in the personal quiet time, there is nothing that compares to the corporate experience worshiping our God who saves us. This song is meant for the corporate setting and I love to sing it with my church family!
5. Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman (Beautiful News (Bonus Track))
This acoustic version of a familiar worship song is refreshing. I have sung this song through tears more than any other. These tears have been shed both in the context of pain “on the road marked with suffering” and joy “in the land that is plentiful.” It is my choice to worship God in all circumstances. This song keeps me grounded in my choice to bring praise to God no matter what. Though I may start it tentatively at times, I always end it with a bit more faith than at the start.
6. It Is Well by Brian Doerksen (You Shine)
I have sung this song at more funerals than any other. There is no other hymn that so fully and powerfully captures the resolve to trust God in tough times, the victory of salvation over sin through the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the hope of heaven for all eternity. Horacio Spafford wrote it on the occasion of the death of his four daughters at sea. A good friend recently wrote to me after listening to this recording, “I long to be able to say that and really mean it: No matter my lot … it is well with my soul. I’m not there yet, but I’m willing to let God bring me there.” God will bring us both there, brother! The choice to worship thus is the starting place.
7. What A Friend by Jadon Lavik (Roots Run Deep)
I grew up singing this hymn, but it wasn’t until college that it struck me in a profound way. “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” How quick I am to worry or problem solve when instead my first response to tough times should be prayer. While there are many poignant lyrics in the song, I love the ending, “In his arms he’ll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.” Simply said, “Run to Daddy!”
8. What A Good God You’ve Been by The Maranatha! Singers (Long Play Thanksgiving)
Being thankful in all circumstances is not only a command from the Scriptures, but also leads to “counting it all joy when we face various trials of all kinds.” This song by Tommy Walker helps us shift the focus from our present circumstances to our Good God – his character and presence with us. The heart that is thankful is steadfast because it is deeply rooted in the goodness, loving-kindness and faithfulness of our God. Thanksgiving is not only a means by which we praise God, but it also opens the door to his saving work in our lives. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalms 50:23 NIV)
9. Hungry by Kathryn Scott (Satisfy)
Tough times can draw us to our knees in brokenness. Humility is spiritual fruit that comes from tough times when we let go of our pride and cry out for help. God promises to draw near and uplift the humble heart. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10 NIV) This song captures an authentic hunger and thirst for God – not just for the rescue, but more so for his felt presence. Learning that he is ultimately what our heart is longing for is a secret to persevering through tough times. I love how this worship song nurtures that process and turns these times into an opportunity to offer ourselves more fully to God.
10. When the Tears Fall by Tim Hughes (When Silence Falls)
Lament is a form of worship that flows from a place of deep pain. Worship in the “dark night of the soul” moves us honestly toward our Father. It results in greater intimacy and deeper faith. While our circumstances may not change, our perspective does and that is where hope is born. This song is a resolution to praise God no matter what.
11. Psalm 13 (How Long O Lord) by Brian Doerksen (You Shine)
I chose this psalm as the foundation of a recent study on how biblical worship confronts fear, doubt and depression. The psalmist, David, experienced all three and brought these feelings to God in worship and moved to a place of trust. When I discovered this song afterwards, I moved from an intellectual understanding of it to a heart-engaged moment of worship. I wept as I realized that the model here is to run to Daddy. We come to our Father with our complaint, cry out for help and then we collapse into his loving arms. It is there that we can rejoice in the goodness of our God – when we are being held by Him.
12. You Never Let Go by Matt Redman (Passion: Everything Glorious)
The 2nd verse and related bridge in this song are food for the heart struggling to hold on. “I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on. There will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes, still I will praise you!” We recently sang it as a worship response to a sermon from the book of James. “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:8 NIV) It was one of those moments where I felt both a fullness of the presence of the Lord and strength from the unity with the other voices that joined mine that morning. These are the sweetest moments of corporate worship. That is why I chose the “live” version of this song. God creates us with a need for other believers. Even though we have lonely moments, we cannot hold on if we are alone. We not only need God who never lets go, but also we need his church through which he will hold us at times. I praise God for my church family!
13. You’re Not Alone by Meredith Andrews (The Invitation)
Loneliness seems to amplify the pain and sadness of difficult times. But God loves to meet the lonely heart through his Word and through prayer. “In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.” (Psalms 118:5-6 NIV) This song reminds us that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. He is always there. He will see us through the darkest night. We just need to cry out to him and he will answer.
14. Faithful One by Brian Doerksen (You Shine)
The chorus of this song helps us respond to the fact that God is the Faithful One, the ageless one who is unchanging. He is our Rock in times of trouble – a rock of peace. He lifts us up when we fall down. All through the storm his love is the anchor that holds us. Our hope is in him alone. My ears need to hear that and my mouth needs to say it again and again especially in the midst of suffering. It is only then that I discover that my heart really believes – that my faith is in the Lord, the Faithful One. I need to call out to him again and again in faith that he hears and will answer. Faith produces endurance and is also the product of endurance. Psalm 18 is a great passage of Scripture that probably inspired this song.
15. Grace for Me by Michael Gungor Band (Ancient Skies)
I end this mix with a simple but profound reminder that God’s grace is all we need. There are wonderful statements of truth in each verse: you are forming me, you’ll provide for me, and you’ll watch over me. My heart soars with a resolution of hope during the instrumental bridge and then joyfully declares, “I’ll rejoice in spite of hardship; you’ll watch over me.” Yes, Lord, in the lonely times I can and will declare this: “All I need is here … in you!”