Monday, March 30, 2009

Music for the hurting soul

Over the past few days, I have wrestled with if and how I would write this post. I think I'm ready. It's part of Christian fellowship to share our struggles with other believers, and trust that our friends will pray for us. However, I want to share these thoughts because I woke up today knowing that someone out there is going through a similar situation as me, and needs to be encouraged.

I am in a deep valley. Over the past couple months, my faith has been challenged in ways I did not expect. I have loved beyond my own understanding. I have put selfishness before obedience. And I have never been left with this type of numbing pain. What an oxymoron. I always thought pain meant a tearing apart at the seams that rips your heart into shreds. I've experienced that kind of pain. This is new, and I don't know what I think about it. In many ways I am just thankful that I have been able to put one foot in front of the other. I can feel God's presence with me, and I know it is the comfort I find in Him, which holds me together. I feel God especially at night, when I struggle to shut my eyes, because my mind always wanders back to the same thoughts. That's when tears burn, and I tell myself over and over again, "Stop it. No more. No more (tears)." As a whole, I'm doing much better than I thought I would be. I know I have no one but God to thank for that. While I am grieving a loss (which does not necessarily mean a death, in my case), God is putting me back together again, in His timing. When things in life don't seem to go how we envisioned and things we've come to know, love, and get comfortable with, are taken away, it is no punishment. It is no mistake. Besides, we are instructed not to get comfortable in this life. Even if we lose everything here on earth, finding truth in knowing God is worth it all, because it comes down to our soul. God ONLY wants the best for us. Yes, God can use even our pain and suffering for something better than what we thought was possible. This may be a hard concept to grasp, the idea of "bad things" happening to "good people". Rest assured in the knowledge that God is bigger than you and I. If we knew how God intends everything in our lives to turn out, would there be a place for faith? I may never know His reasons for every trial I go through, but in many cases, I know they are self-inflicted. He is a just God, rewarding us for our obedience and teaching us when we have abused our freedoms. The lessons He teaches are hardly ever easy. Today, I hold tightly to the belief that I am exactly where God wants me to be. Exactly where I need to be in order for him to mold, purify, strengthen, and teach me. Through it all, I ask the Lord to grant me the perseverance and diligence to never give up hoping through prayer. No matter what it is you are going through, seek to find Jesus Christ and He will be the light during your dark times.

God has been using music to touch my heart, ever since I can remember. I know God reaches everyone in different ways, and I am grateful that in addition to prayer and scripture, He speaks to me through music. Below is the playlist of songs serving as a reminder to me of God's sweet mercies and amazing grace. I apologize for the ads and how some of the songs are only 30 seconds long. Apparently you need an IMEEM account to hear full songs from certain artists. I recommend doing it; IMEEM is my personal source for music (it's great) AND I want you to hear these songs! I want to also share a little about certain songs...my favorite parts, what they say to me, etc. That can be found below the playlist if you don't feel you've had enough reading yet.

Lastly, if you find yourself in a deep valley today, trust in the Lord and be encouraged; you are loved without condition.

"I don’t want to be safe tonight...I need You like a hurricane. Thunder crashing, wind and rain. To tear my walls down; I’m only Yours now. I need you like a burning flame. A wild fire untamed. To burn these walls down; I’m only Yours now...I am Yours and You are mine. You know far better than I. And if destruction’s what I need, then I’ll receive it Lord from Thee."
Biblical inspiration: Hebrews 12:7-11, Psalm 51:17
The story behind the music: ”Though it’s an uncomfortable thought, before God can really begin to use a person for His purposes, He must break that person. Brokenness is not a popular idea in our culture, but there is usually no sweeter time of intimacy with God than when He takes our life, our sinful habits, and destroys them so that He can build us up again. Yes the LORD is a loving father; yes He is our savior and help in time of need, but sometimes, He shows up as a hurricane. May we embrace Him when He does.” – Jimmy Needham

I don't even know where to begin. This song has comforted me and spoken truth to my heart for months.
"When my life is like a storm, rising waters all I want is the shore. You say I’ll be ok and make it through the rain; You are my shelter from the storm. Everything rides on hope now. Everything rides on faith somehow. When the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free."

"Sweet Sweet Sound" by Sarah Reeves
This song is so beautiful to me. This veteran Christian artist has such a breathtaking voice, and despite the simplicity of the lyrics, they get me every time.
"So I will testify, even in the fire, I live to praise my Savior. Hear the song of my life. Let it be a sweet, sweet sound."

Biblical inspiration: 1 Corinthians 13.
I was recently made aware that the KJV talks about "charity" in this passage. Charity goes beyond the romantic love we often attach to this chapter. Charity is about goodwill, generosity, benevolence, and how we exercise those things in our lives toward others, God's creation, and all of humanity. When I listen to this song, I replace every presence of the word "love" with "God", because He is the ultimate example. "God never fails you". That's comforting.

I first heard this song about a decade ago. There's a lot of uncertainty as to why things happen the way they do and when they do. Trials are about refinement. We do not know all the answers, but faith prompts us to press on. When you feel alone in life's difficulties, remind yourself that God is holding your hand and walking right next to you.
"The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear. And I don't know the reason why you brought me here. But just because You love me the way that You do, I will go through the valley, if You want me to...So if all of these trials bring me closer to You, I will go through the fire, if You want me to. It may not be the way I would have chosen...But You never said it would be easy. You only said I'll never go alone."

She has made a huge impact in my life through her lyrical genius, and meeting her in January was such a wonderful experience. I know for a fact that I am not the only one who has been touched by hearing her music. I pray that person is still listening.
"But even perfect days can end in rain. And though it's pouring down, I see You through the clouds, shining on my face. Like sunlight burning at midnight, making my life something so beautiful, beautiful."

"I'll always be amazed at You and who You are. I love the way You take and heal my broken heart. I need You every day and night. You are life, You are life."

"O I tried and tried to rectify my hopeless situation. But I bought the lie I still have work to do. Now I’m working nine to five like I can earn my own salvation. But there is no condemnation in You...O He died, He died to rectify my hopeless situation, and His blood commands my guilt to leave."
Biblical inspiration: Romans 8:1, Ephesians 3:17-19
The story behind the music: ”You can’t give what you don’t have. The thing I struggle with most in my relationship with God is the ability to receive His love and forgiveness. For some reason, I have this crazy notion that if I work really hard I will finally put a smile on the Father’s face. What I have failed to understand is that the only thing that truly pleases God is God himself. It’s true that there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, but the amazing part of that statement is that it is not based on our deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy. May each of us as believers be able to say with confidence that we are in fact forgiven and loved.” – Jimmy Needham

Philippians 4:6-7 comes to mind. Too often, I want to know all the answers when I need to just let God be God. I want to do things bigger than myself, and I forget that there are some things better left to God. HE is the one that saves. HE will reveal Himself to the lost. Our job is to be ever faithful in prayer before the Lord.
"I’ve been trying to find a way to understand. When I can’t see the picture of God’s plan. Why would He let us hurt so bad? Could anything good come of these feelings that I have?...It’s taken so long but now I know. I had to find out on my own. When nothing could convince me, Your love it convinced me. That it’s gonna be ok."

Psalm 8:3-4 and Psalm 33:6-9 come to mind when I think of the Lord's great holiness.
"I’ve tried to hear from heaven but I talk the whole time. I think I made You too small."

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and/or how I can pray for you. Keep looking up... Jollene Kuo

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hey Jo! Rob shared your blog link with me (and a few others) and I enjoyed reading it! I didn't enjoy knowign that you are enduring pain and heartache and struggles, but definitely was heartened to know how strong you are in your faith and your trust in God's sovereignty over the trials and valleys of life.

Praying for you as you walk this road.

How is your recovery from surgery going? I had no idea you were having surgery until Rob e-mailed while we were in China to say your friend would be with you for recovery. Hoping and praying you are doing all right.

You are a fabulous writer--may you continue to use that gift for His glory! I hope you don't mind that I've subscribed to follow your blog...

If there is anything I can do or pray for as you walk this road, please let me know.

Much love,
Amy