Life can sometimes feel a whole lot like a broken song that isn’t much worth singing. This year, my family has faced some unforeseen circumstances that have left us feeling broken and discarded like an old seashell you’d never choose to pick up off the sand. But I know I am not alone in this feeling. Many people are having their own life songs interrupted right now. If you feel this way, I invite you to join me in engaging in the spiritual practice of imagining with God by faith. Doing this helps me lift my eyes up and away from the disappointments I see toward a hope that is promised but not yet revealed.
Imagine with me that these banded tulip shells represent personal invitations from the Lord to view our troubles through the heavenly lens of GOD AS OUR SONG AND JOY-GIVER. Whenever I find a tulip shell on the beach, I imagine that God is singing over me and also giving me a new song to uplift my down-cast soul. The bold and perfectly parallel lines that run around the shell resemble a proper music staff, and the more free-flowing markings underneath resemble sound waves. This is why I call them, “song shells.”
Song shells remind me to praise the Lord no matter how difficult the circumstances are that I’m facing. Praising in suffering is contrary to human nature. But if we are willing to intentionally engage in this spiritual practice, we will soon discover the secret of having inner joy apart from difficult circumstances. Through praise, we enter the Lord’s presence and receive enough strength to keep on going, even when it’s hard. Songs of worship are like keys into the presence of God, wherever and whenever we need help. I am reminded not only to thank the Lord in the “high notes” of my life, but also to praise Him by faith in the “low notes.”
Finding a BROKEN song shell is strangely comforting to me, because it reminds me that God sees and knows all the places where my life-song has gotten broken and interrupted along the way. Being broken open allows the inner beauty to be seen by others, as it is a kind of forced vulnerability. If we are willing to allow our hurts and frailties to be known by others, especially in the context of how God gives hope and strength, others will also come to realize that they are not so alone in their struggles. There is a fellowship of the suffering, a chorus to be joined by all with aching hearts. So, even in the “low notes” my spirit has learned to worship; not because I’m happy, but because in offering a “sacrifice of praise,” my soul knows how to enter God’s safety, strength, and healing.
“The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous.” (Ps. 18:14-15). The trials we face can become transformed into beautiful songs of hope in God. “You are God’s poem, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works that God prepared in advance for you to walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Those willing to become an expression of God’s truth in love will cause their hardships to be transformed into unique melodic poems that inspire others towards beauty, hope, and healing. Lord, You alone you are our exceeding joy – Yahweh El Simhat Gili.