By Jasmine Timm
On a warm summer evening in June, friends trickled into my living room one-by-one as I sat on the cold hardwood floor. I had just returned home from the hospital, where I had received news that my sister was beyond saving. Her brain was no longer working, and she had to be taken off life support. My world was shattered, and I felt as cold as the floor I sat upon. As friends poured in, someone began to strum the guitar, and we all began to sing:
What mercy flows from up above
That God would send His Son to show His love
That Christ in flesh would dwell to conquer hell
And purchase worthless thieves
To pardon even me
Suddenly, my numb heart began to swell as I was reminded of what was true. God was still merciful, and He indeed loved me. The simple act of singing with the saints revived me in the midst of deep, deep sorrow. Through song, I learned what it meant to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Singing is one of the most profound gifts God has given us to know and worship Him. It is a discipline that on the surface seems largely unnecessary, but one that proves to stir up affections for Him that were before lacking. In the pages of our Bibles, we can find more than 400 references to singing, with nearly 50 direct commands to sing. In fact, God Himself sings. We read of this in Zephaniah 3:17:
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
God sings, and He has made us in His image, meaning that it is good and natural for us to reflect Him in this way. Regardless of your initial affection for it — or lackthereof — singing is hardwired into our DNA as a gracious gift.
There is something particularly grace-filled about the saints singing to one another. In Colossians 3:16, Paul admonishes us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Singing words to the tune of a melody often helps us to remember, and as we sing to one another, we are reminded of great truths about our God, which we may have forgotten. Just as I was reminded of God’s great mercy and love toward me after the loss of my sister, words of truth sung by our fellow saints have great power to resurrect hope in our hearts.
I have heard many Chrisitans refer to the act of worship as a way that we “sing to the saints.” We do not just sing for ourselves, nor do we sing solely to God. We sing as a way to remind our fellow brothers and sisters of the rich inheritance we share in Christ Jesus. Every time a saint opens her mouth, she has the opportunity to bless another by reminding him or her of wonderful realities we get to participate in as sons and daughters of the King.
As we sit in our homes isolated from one another during this worldwide pandemic, we do not necessarily have the same opportunities to “sing to the saints.” I have found myself periodically weary and discouraged throughout this time, and I have certainly missed the privilege of being able to share with God’s children in song. Regardless of your natural inclination toward song, it is a gift God has given us to partake in and to extend to others, and although we may not be able to sing together right now, we can still sing. In my darkest and driest seasons, in the time after my sister died and in times that I’ve felt very little affection at all for my Lord, singing has sustained and revived me. I encourage you to remind your own heart of God’s goodness toward you by engaging in this ever-important discipline. Here are a few practical ways that you can participate in the art of singing right now:
- Play some worship music as you go about your day inside. We have created a playlist for you if you need a place to start. Here’s the link. Although we may not be able to sing with one another right now, we have the privilege of being able to listen to other saints sing to us through recorded music. These are some of my favorite songs that have sustained me in some of my most challenging times.
- Try praying for other believers as you listen to worship songs. These songs remind us of great truths, and as we listen and reflect on them, we can bless one another from afar by praying these truths for each other.
- If you’re able, sing with your family or roommates. It doesn’t have to be formal or fussy. Some of my favorite moments of worship in quarantine have been when my husband and I have worship music playing and both of us are singing while doing the dishes or folding laundry.
As Pastor Brett mentioned the other week in our livestream Sunday service, you may not be naturally inclined to sing. But don’t let that be a reason to keep you from the wonderful gift God has given us. If you don’t feel like singing for yourself, then “sing for the saints.” Even if they are miles away from you, you can bless them with your words of truth. I pray that we would reflect the joy of our God, who Himself sings over us with gladness, as we remember all the blessings we have in Him as we sing. Just as I needed to hear words of truth sung by fellow saints in my darkest hour, you may need special reminding right now, and God has provided for us graciously through song. Don’t underestimate His ability to bless you with it.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
What songs are encouraging you in this season? We’d love for you to share your favorites in the comments section below!