In the midst of Sunday morning final worship rehearsal, I picked up my phone to text a lifelong, cherished friend to let her know I was spending the morning praying in song for her, her husband, and their family.
The song above is one of the songs we sang that morning. It is the song that, during rehearsal earlier in the week, brought tears to my eyes as I prayed for these friends who were in a time of waiting, knowing what was to come. It is the song we practiced right before I texted her. It is also the song we sang twice in worship; once to introduce it to the congregation and once as our closing song. All week, it had been powerful; and then, during the final singing of it, something occurred that words in the English language cannot capture.
There have been times in my life I've wanted to throw in the towel of faith. Times when I've been at the bottom of the pit or walked with others in the bottom of their pit and thought, 'would this be easier if I didn't believe? If I didn't need to approach this in faith?' For me, both personally and in my work, there are many situations in which it would be much easier to say everything is random and has no purpose; to say there is no one behind or within this; to completely disregard the spiritual aspect of life. And yet, any time I start down that road, someone or something reminds that while it might be easier to say those things, living through the situations that cause such thoughts becomes incomprehensible if unable to lean into God.
I've watched my friend from the outside, separated by states and years, and been in awe of her strength, her heart, and her commitment to her faith as their family endured proof of our broken world. I mourn with them. I pray for them. I shake my fist at God for them. I cry for her and for her children. I cry for his parents and siblings, for her parents and siblings.
How long, O Lord?
Then there are moments like Sunday. Physically, I know I stayed on that stage; I can also tell you with certainty I also left that stage. My whole body tingled and I entered another realm while singing/praying the truth of this hymn--particularly the last two verses.
To you my dear friend, I pray you have those experiences as you try to navigate these next hours, days, weeks, months, and years. I pray your faith gives you opportunities for experience your beloved in new ways that somehow enters comfort into the pain. I pray you and your precious ones encounter God's realm in the moments of greatest need. None of you will ever traverse this road alone, that I can guarantee.