Confession time: I don’t like most Christian music. I find it trite and disconnected from the challenges of daily life, as if we are not allowed to acknowledge struggles in our songs. I believe it is a symptom of the biggest lie we tell as Christians –we are all okay, all the time.
Every once in a while, I stumble upon a song that captures my experiences as a man who loves Jesus deeply, but just feels like life sucks some days. The Afters have crafted just such a song in their “Broken Hallelujah.”
This song made me realize a powerful truth:
When the holiness and omnipotence of our God crashes against this malfunctioning world, something has to break…but we get to choose what gets busted up.
There are four elements in this collision:
- the world
- our faith
- our praise
God isn’t going to break, because He is steadfast and consistent. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In other words He is not and never will be broken. It won’t be God who breaks.
How about the world? I think it’s too late for the world to break. Imagine a porcelain dish being dropped on Saltillo tile and shattering into hundred of pieces. Now imagine trying to pick up the porcelain dish and breaking it again. It just can’t happen. This is our world. It’s already broken, and it cannot be broken more.
It comes down to us – will we allow our faith to break, or will we offer broken praises?
Destroying our faith is a common choice, because it makes the most sense on some level. If we believe God is good and all-powerful, then terrible things shouldn’t happen in this world. When they do occur, we seem to be within our rights to blame God. It feels appropriate to question His character and His strength.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
If Mr. Burke can question the character of good men who stay uninvolved, how much more ought we wonder about the nature of a silent God?
I know many who have made this choice. Too many wounds given by those who claim the name of Jesus. Too many unanswered prayers. Too much pain, and too little involvement from God. Honestly, I understand the choice. Sometimes, this life just sucks, and it’s hard to believe in a good God in a sucky world.
I come back to John 6:68. After a wild teaching from Jesus caused many to stop following Him, He offered to let His disciples leave as well. Peter’s answer echoes my own, in the face of a life that makes so little sense far too often.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life.
I have built my life on a foundation of Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the locked door for me to have intimacy with the great good creator God.
If this is wrong, my foundation is shattered utterly and my life is ashambles. I honestly cannot imagine a universe in which there is no God, or this God is not good.
My faith is unshakable. Not only because of my trust in God, but because I cannot imagine a world without Him. So I offer busted praise.
What Do Broken Hallelujahs Look Like?
The Afters sing about raising empty hands to God, but I have a different image for broken hallelujahs. We raise both hands up, but neither is empty.
In one hand, we hold all our thoughts of gratitude and thankfulness to God for His goodness and generosity to us. In the other hand, we hold all our unresolved difficulties – an unloving marriage, unemployment, chronic illness, and death. So we lift both up to God, simultaneously expressing our love and confusion to God, undergirded by a desperate trust that God will come through.
For many of us, this is the only way to offer honest worship to God. To forget the things in our lives that do not represent our God’s character as we worship would be dishonest. To dwell solely on this incongruencies would shatter our tenuous faith.
So we worship the goodness of God as we ask Him for understanding. We extoll His greatness while confessing confusion at our circumstances. We recognize Him as Lord of our days even though our days are filled with pain. We bring our broken hallelujahs.