February 25, 2021
To the tune of “I Sing a Song of Bethleham” C.M.
Sing it at seedbed.com/soundtrack.
1 Why, Lord, do You stand far away
in times of trial and pain?
2 The wicked ones in arrogance
afflict the weak for gain.
The weak are caught in schemes they plan,
the wicked boast indeed!
3 They’re proud of cravings in their heart,
they love the life of greed.
4 In his own pride he seeks Him not,
the Lord’s not in his mind,
5 He prospers in his haughtiness,
Your laws he will not find.
6 The wicked sneers at all his foes,
“Nothing will e’er shake me.
I’ll always know this happiness,
and trouble I’ll not see.”
7 His mouth is full of lies and threats;
evil is on his tongue.
8 He waits to ambush innocent,
to murder old or young.
9 For victims he in secret waits,
like lions wait for prey;
They catch the helpless in their net,
and drag them off to slay.
10 He crushes them and sees them fall,
and does not hide in shame.
11 He says, “God has forgotten this,
and on me there’s no blame.”
12 Arise, O Lord, lift up Your hand;
forget not those in need!
13 Why, Lord, do they revile Your name,
thinking You ne’er take heed?
14 But, You, O God, see all our grief;
You take it all to mind;
The victim knows Your are his help,
a father fath’rless find.
15 O, break the arm of evil men;
call them before Your throne;
May all their deeds come into light,
in judgment they be known.
16 The Lord is King for evermore,
the nations will not stand;
17 O Lord, You hear all of our cries,
the needy in the land.
18 For You defend the fatherless;
on sinners wrath You pour;
So that the wicked of this earth
may terrify no more.
He’s at it again. Another bad day. Our singer finds himself back in the depths of despair . . . again. But again we must note his medication of choice: lament.
In a world that values the pursuit of happiness above all else (and that misdefines happiness in every conceivable way), lament is a non-value. It is impossible to overestimate how much this pursuit of happiness shapes everything about us. The standard greeting of the day, “How are you doing?” is met with the standard answer, “Fine.” (I once heard that response defined as an acronym for Frustrated, Insecure, Nervous, and Exhausted!)
I am becoming convinced that depression is so rampant precisely because lament is so repressed. Think about it. Years and years of life’s ordinary disappointments, wounds, broken relationships, lost opportunities, sinful mistakes, grievous losses, deaths, and on we could go—unlamented, held inside, slowly repressed, and exiled to the Siberian wasteland of our souls. It’s enough to permanently alter a person’s internal brain chemistry. This is what causes so much depression.
Consider this: a full one-third of all of the Psalms (by my count, fifty-eight) are songs of lament. It strikes me that we should assume that about one-third of our life is going to be a disappointing mess that many times cannot be resolved, only lamented. Might it be a revolutionary strategy to reset our expectations in light of this and to learn how to lament? Think about how this might impact the other two-thirds of our lives. It strikes me as another example of the counterintuitive logic of the cross. The way of death and resurrection . . . endings and beginnings.
This is the way singing provides a subversive strategy in the face of sadness.
Ask Yourself. Share with Another.
What’s the story of depression in your life? Ever experienced it? Do you think it is an abnormal part of the human experience? Why or why not?
For the Awakening,