Song Highlight September: Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call
The first of a new thing that we hope will encourage you! Song Highlights – Songs we sing and why we sing them.
Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call
Often times we think of singing praises to the Lord as something that is done with joy and celebration, with emotions of happiness and gladness. We read in scripture of mourning turned into dancing:
“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalm 30:11-12
of standing at night (when we could be sleeping) blessing the Lord:
“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!” Psalm 134:1-2
or times of great confidence in the Lord’s protection in battle:
“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation!'” Psalm 35:1-3.
We imitate this very thing in everyday life: when getting a promotion at work, the shout in our head, “Thank you, Lord!” or when we finally finish all of the day’s chores, we sigh our thanks to the Lord, “thank you for this comfy couch!” Whatever big or little thing it may be, we celebrate and give thanks to the Lord.
Some weeks we find that the same is true in our corporate worship. We hear the word of the Lord declared over the congregation, our joyful singing exhorting one another in song, and in our hearts we celebrate with joy, wanting to throw our fists in the air exclaiming “Christ is victorious!” and “Thank you Lord for saving me!” But there are also times where another emotion, another attitude and feeling can be experienced: lament.
Looking over to the next section of pews, as your eyes scan across the faces they fall upon Roger who is battling colon cancer, and Margie who is grieving the loss of her military son, Susan who was just laid off from the job she had been working for 15 years and James who is going through a tough divorce. As your eyes continue across the congregation your mind is met with sympathy and sorrow for your fellow congregants, and a deep sharing of empathy comes over you as you think about what they must be feeling. “How can I praise the Lord with joy and happiness when the only thing I feel is pain, misery and despair?”
In Scripture, not only do we find times of great praise and thanksgiving, we also find times of deep and mournful cries of lament.
- “For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my spirit; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.” Lamentations 1:16
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2
One might conclude from the above verses that God is not present in our sorrow and prayer. If we take the whole counsel of Scripture, we find that there is a disconnect between what is true and how we feel. Sometimes we feel as if God is distant, even indifferent to our cries for help but in actuality, God is everywhere, knows all things (including our cries for help) and has the power to change situations and circumstances. It is not God who distances himself from us, it is our sinful nature that wants to flee from Him. In the words of the hymn writer, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I Love” (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, 1758). Because we are the creation and He is the Creator, we are under His Lordship and care; He has told us that His plan and will is better for us than our own, for if we were left to our own devices we would choose to worship ourselves and not Him.
- “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
- “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
How do we reconcile the previous four verses? It appears that God does not comfort us nor hear our prayers, yet He is our refuge and strength and hears our prayers? To understand what is going on here, we can make a couple of clarifications:
1) God hears all of our prayers, but the answer isn’t always “yes.” Just because God does not answer our prayer does not mean that He is not listening. It is often our feelings that take hold of our hearts when we do not receive an answer for prayer. Just as we send a text message to our loved one; at first cordially waiting for a response but after 2 hours our patience wanes and our cordial attitude changes to dismay and worry! We can be assured that God hears our prayers, and if we do not receive a “yes” answer, then its either “no” or “wait.”
2) God does all things according to His will. Most Bible believing Christians would jump for the chance to agree with this statement, but what does it actually mean in regard to prayer? If we are asking God to do something that is contrary to His will, He will not answer “yes” to the prayer. If God has designed the trials, sufferings and thorns in our lives for His purpose and we are asking Him to remove them, then in essence we are asking God to abandon His will. It should be no surprise to us that our prayers do not always line up with God’s will. But instead of finding discouragement in what we think is unanswered prayers, perhaps it would do well for us to shift our mindset from wanting the trials, sufferings and thorns removed to asking God what His purpose is for them.
3) Have faith in God, remembering His faithfulness in the past. In the very next verse of Psalm 22, David reminds himself of who God is and what he has done: “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” Psalm 22:3-5. God is holy; He was before we were, He has all rule and authority and He is Lord over each of our lives: David found comfort in who God is. But David also found comfort knowing that God was faithful in the past; God answered the prayers of Israel in the past and now David finds hope in knowing that God will continue to answer the prayers of His people. “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’” Lamentations 3:55-57. Even when we are left staring at a wall of sorrow, grief and despair, it is our faith in God that splits the wall, making a path for us to grow, hearing him say “do not fear” all the while guiding our next step.
At the end of the day when we lay our heads on our pillows, worn out, exhausted and discouraged from the raging storms of life, we can rest knowing that it is Christ who is giving us strength to persevere through the good, the bad and the worst. “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:12-13.
And so we come to our song, Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call:
Lord from sorrows deep I call
When my hope is shaken
Torn and ruined from the fall
Hear my desperation
For so long I’ve pled and prayed
God come to my rescue
Even so the thorn remains
Still my heart will praise You
Storms within my troubled soul
Questions without answers
On my faith these billows roll
God be now my shelter
Why are you cast down my soul
Hope in Him who saves you
When the fires have all grown cold
Cause this heart to praise You
Oh my soul put your hope in God
My help my rock I will praise Him
Sing oh sing through the raging storm
You’re still my God my salvation
Should my life be torn from me
Every worldly pleasure
When all I possess is grief
God be then my treasure
Be my vision in the night
Be my hope and refuge
‘Til my faith is turned to sight
Lord my heart will praise You
We sing this song because it is Scriptural. God wants us to cry out to Him in all seasons: whether joy, happiness, gladness, thankfulness, indifference, confusion, anger, anxious, depression, sadness, sorrow, grief or despondency, God is still our refuge, our strength; and He wants us to find our strength in Him alone.
Father, we ask that you would cause our hearts to praise you, even when we feel as if you are miles away, when we feel as though you are leaving us on our own. Remind us of who you are,
that in the past you have been faithful to deliver your Saints and you will continue to do so to the end of our time. Help us to put our hope and faith in You alone. Amen.