And yet, in the wake of September 11, songwriters Matt and Beth Redman were troubled by the following realisation:
“Where were the musical poets and prophets to help the people of God find a voice in worship at this tragic time? The truth was, in most places we visited (or led worship), there was a distinct lack of songs appropriate for this time. As songwriters and lead worshipers, we had a few expressions of hope at our disposal, but when it came to expressions of pain and lament, we had very little vocabulary to give voice to our heart cries.”
A few weeks after these events, they wrote Blessed Be Your Name – a modern Christian classic which includes these words inspired by Job 1:21:
“You give and take away
God give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”
These are hard words to sing, aren't they? And yet God is worthy of our worship – not only when he gives, but also when in His wisdom and love, he takes away. This is what the persecuted church does. This is what mature believers do:
Mature worshipers of Jesus learn to bring an offering in every season of the soul, for every high and every low, knowing that the worth of Jesus outweighs each and every pain and pleasure in this life. Centered on Christ, wholesome worship has room both for the heights of joy and the pits of despair. Every blessing He pours out, we turn back to praise. And even when the dark times close in on us, still we will be singing out, “Blessed be your name.”
Finding God in the Hard Times: Choosing to Trust and Hope When You Can't See the Way is an accessible and comforting read about trusting God in times of trial, and continuing to praise God when life is hard.
Both Matt and Beth share personally of their days walking through dark valleys – not only as children but also as adults – including 3 successive miscarriages.
This book uses the lines of their well-known song as chapter headings that provide great wisdom, comfort and practical help for suffering Christians.
There is much to like about Finding God in the Hard Times. It is thoroughly Biblical, appropriately sensitive, never trite, accepting of the mystery that often are Gods ways, and yet offering deeply satisfying comfort and help to those who are suffering.
It is a book you could read in a variety of contexts:
- to prepare to suffer,
- to guide your heart in times of suffering,
- to help you care for others who are suffering,
- to discuss in a small group (there are excellent reflections questions at the end of each chapter, and a study guide), or
- to give to others.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for me in this book was the challenge to be thankful at all times:
“The Christian distinctive not only accepts pain as a fact of life but also learns to be thankful in it: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”