Soothing Music for Shut-In Souls
I have had the privilege of caring for people as they approach their deaths. As I enter a hospital room or home where the dying lay, there are usually one or two sounds that fill the air. The first room is filled with the whirrings and beeps of the different equipment that continues to keep the person alive. As they lay there, there is a sense of foreboding and sadness that naturally dominates the atmosphere. Family members all sense it. The second room also has the same whirring and beeps. But there is something different in this second room. There is a boom box or speaker playing hymns or worship songs or Scripture out loud. And while the situation is just as ominous, all who are gathered sense hope and peace in the midst of sorrows and death. Music that feeds the soul and reminds us of God’s truth has that type of power.
This is why when Paul and Silas were imprisoned for proclaiming Christ, they began to belt out their hymns to God. Look at the impact they made through their song: “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25) It was during their song that the earthquake hit and the Phillippian jailer was saved. Prisoners listened intently, perhaps wondering how they could sing in such terrible conditions. The music and song itself cannot save. But God uses the heart that loves Jesus to burst out in song so that people might remember that Christ truly will never leave them for forsake them, even in their darkest hour (Heb 13:5-6).
Or who can forget David’s lyre playing for the troubled King Saul in 1 Samuel 16:23: “And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.” God used music to bring peace and relief to not only a troubled person, but an oppressed one. Darkness dissipated, even if for a moment.
There is a reason we sing every Sunday when we gather together. Singing is not merely a component of worship. Singing can be an expression of the innermost part of our souls. Listen to Psalm 5:11: “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.” Singing is a language to one another, that speaks truth to the soul when sometimes words seem to merely float in the air without penetration to our weary hearts. It’s every reason why Paul tell us in Ephesians 5:19-20 to “address[ing] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Like Paul and Silas, singing and rescue through times of trouble are inextricably linked together. In this season of fear and sorrow, I want to urge you to turn off songs about romantic love and turn on songs about the gracious, infinitely powerful love of our Savior. Fill your shut-in rooms with God’s Word through apps like the Dwell App and with songs to worship a God who is your ever present help in times of trouble. Break out your guitar and hit those piano keys and sing together songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make melody in your heart. And perhaps one day your kids will say to you, “Dad, Mom, remember that time we are shut in and we sang songs about Jesus? I was so scared but those songs gave me such peace. They reminded me that we are safe in Jesus’ hands.”
Though we cannot join together to sing in person. Please, if you are joining with us online for worship, do not stop singing. May your heart join in asking the question worship leader Chris Tomlin asks, “How Can I Keep from Singing Your Love?”