Is It Better Than A Hallelujah?

Have you ever listened to a song over and over – even memorizing the words – without really absorbing the meaning or the message of the song?  This happens to me often.  Most recently, I discovered my mindless appreciation of the song, “Better than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant.  (Click song title for link to You Tube video.)

During my drive to work on Friday morning, instead of howling along with Amy, I abandoned all delusions that I actually sound okay and just listened.  Wait a second, I thought, after the song ended.  I replayed the song and listened a second time.

God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night

Better than a hallelujah sometimes.

God loves a drunkard’s cry, the soldier’s plea not to let him die

Better than a hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries,

God just hears a melody.

Hold it.  Did this song just say that God likes our pain?  That our heartbreak is music to His ears?  Surely this couldn’t be true, because it ruins the image I had of a loving God.  It doesn’t seem very nice to derive joy from someone’s suffering, does it?

Friday night, I decided to get to the bottom of it and did some scripture research in my Study Bible.  (In my youth, Friday nights were about movies and friends.  Then again, that was back when you could get a movie and popcorn for less than ten bucks.)  These days, as the children and hubby sleep, I am free to spend my Friday evenings delving into burning questions, such as this 🙂

I was relieved to find evidence that supports my previously held notion that God is caring.  Sure, we suffer at times, but we also experience joy – and both are opportunities to praise God and put our faith in Him.  There were two scriptures that had additional study explanations that helped answer my question:  Nahum 1:7 and Psalm 34:17-19.  I’ll write about the second one here.

Psalm 34:17-19The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all.

The additional study text explanation of these verses summed up the core message beautifully:  “God may not remove our difficulties, but sees us through them.  God changes something – if it’s not our troubles, then he changes us.”

So, our suffering is not for God’s entertainment.  We may not understand the specific reasons, but our trials are meant to form us into the tool God needs to carry out His bigger plan.  Kind of like a blacksmith heats metal to a red-hot glow, and then pounds it with a hammer until it takes the intended shape.

Our lives are the chunks of steel.  We are unfinished pieces being forged into something beautiful and useful.  I think our metamorphosis pleases God; not the suffering we endure.

What do you think – has suffering noticeably changed you?  Do you see yourself as weaker or stronger after suffering?

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25 thoughts on “Is It Better Than A Hallelujah?

  1. Carl D'Agostino June 26, 2011 / 2:19 AM

    Insightful on suffering. The inability to reconciles unmerited suffering is why many people relinquish faith or deny faith. I don’t know if explanations are very satisfactory to me either. I think more important than the doctrine that Jesus suffered for our sins is the very fact that he suffered as do we. If there must be suffering the God through Jesus knows about it and feels it as well.

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2011 / 2:44 PM

      I think sometimes there are no explanations for suffering. The conclusions that are drawn and reasons that we come up with to explain it only serve to stiffle our questions as to why that terrible thing could happen.

      I do agree that God and Jesus know and understand our suffering. It helps to believe that our suffering is not for His entertainment 😉

  2. J. P. Cabit June 26, 2011 / 4:59 AM

    Hmm… Delightful post. 🙂

    I imagine that suffering changes us in some way. We become wiser.

    For thinking purposes only, maybe what Amy Grant meant was that sometimes when we call out of desperation, he hears our sincerity, which he enjoys better then pretension? But even in this situation, I would tend to disagree. Because we all know the stories of people who look for help when they need it most, and then when everything is fine and dandy they go back to the mire.

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2011 / 2:52 PM

      I have found that it is easier to ‘forget’ about God and being thankful when everthing is going great. (But when things get ugly, then God hears from me.) Since noticing this, I’ve made an effort to maintain daily communication.

      I think God could enjoy the sincerity that comes from our desperation. Whatever the reason, I don’t believe He loves our misery just because we are hurting. Thanks for sharing your take on this one, Seph.

    • Etonam zacky May 18, 2016 / 6:23 PM

      I love the song… It strongly tells us that God doesn’t only want our hallelujah and praises. He want us to come to him with our burdens.. So in this context, its better to go to God with your burden than a pretence and empty hallelujah.He knows our needs, but He says we should ask, seek and knock. I love the song.I love Amy grant

  3. Debbie June 26, 2011 / 11:42 AM

    Suffering, even just little sufferings, does change us. It makes us more trusting in God, more apt to lean on Him. It makes us stronger, more confident that we “can do all things through Christ.” Sad to think, though, that some people only call on God when times are rough and completely forget about Him when times are easy!

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2011 / 2:55 PM

      I admit that I’ve been ‘that’ person before (who didn’t make an effort to have a relationship with God during good times.) That’s part of what I wanted to change when I made my spiritual journey a goal for my life.

      I agree that when we lean on God and see we come through our suffering, it does build the trust that he won’t fail us. (This doesn’t mean that things always turn out how we want them to, but things work out as they should.)

  4. Carol Ann Hoel June 26, 2011 / 1:10 PM

    After periods of suffering, I have grown in my relationship with the LORD.

    Like children that stray from home, when trouble comes, we come running for our God, like they run for mom and dad. So, when we stray, troubles turn our hearts away from the frivolities of life back to our God, our Creator, our Savior. When our eyes are on God, we are ready for huge blessing. This is what pleases God.

    Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

    God does not rejoice in our suffering but rather in the fruit of our suffering. When we are broken, we are ready for great blessing, which our faithful God lavishly pours out.

    What a beautiful post, Jana. I listened to the song. It’s wonderful. I love it. I’m not offended by it at all. God is greater than our suffering; our lives are never out of His control and blessing. I must say that God loves a sincere Hallelujah as well. 🙂

    • jannatwrites June 26, 2011 / 3:01 PM

      I’ve always loved this song (and still do) so I hope this post didn’t come off that I was offended by it, because that’s not the case at all! At first, I took the lyrics quite literally, in that he hears a melody when we cry in misery.

      Looking deeper, I came to the same conclusion as you – he likes what happens because of the suffering (not the fact we are enduring pain.) I’m okay with that 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your spiritual insight, Carol. I always look forward to reading the wisdom you share in your comments.

      • Carol Ann Hoel June 27, 2011 / 2:56 PM

        I didn’t think the song offended you, Janna. I assumed that someone must have been offended by it, hence, it’s being temporarily removed. It’s a beautiful song.

        • jannatwrites June 27, 2011 / 9:30 PM

          Ah, I didn’t notice that. Here I am being paranoid again 🙂

          I am glad you like the song…it is one of my favorites right now…

  5. Tori Nelson June 26, 2011 / 1:35 PM

    Always stronger 🙂 I love this post!

  6. jannatwrites June 26, 2011 / 3:02 PM

    Thanks, Tori. I’m glad you liked the post. I usually get mad first, and then I get stronger, but the end result is the same!

  7. Patty June 26, 2011 / 9:55 PM

    Suffering is how we learn things about ourself…if we have the insight to see it. I have usually learned from my sufferings. Other people, I have known, when they suffer, they crawl into a shell and refuse to stick their neck out ever again because of the fear of suffering again.

    I like the Amy Grant song. To me it means that God listens to us all the time. I remember once we were in the car driving to church. The kids were cranky and we were fighting. My husband said we needed to turn around and go home because we were unworthy to go to church. I piped up and said we needed to go because we were fighting and to ask forgiveness for our fighting. We need to take our problems to God and we don’t have to be perfect for him. We just need to be ourselves and ask for his help.

    • jannatwrites June 27, 2011 / 9:18 PM

      That’s the key, Patty – we have to be open to learning about ourselves 🙂

      I like your response as to why you should go ahead and go to church. He knows all about us, so it’s not like we can (or should) pretend like all is well when it isn’t. Thanks for sharing your story. I like to think everyone simmered down and got along after church that day.

  8. pattisj June 26, 2011 / 10:21 PM

    I wasn’t sure how I felt about the song with the first hearing of it some time ago. Once I knew the lyrics, it seemed that God loved those who were hurting and called on His name; they had finally come to the realization that they needed Him, and that was music to His ears.
    In my trials and suffering, I have been drawn much closer to Him. Yes, there were times when things were going well, that He rarely got a second thought; but when I was in my deepest, darkest pit after my mother’s death, He came and pulled me out, and set my feet upon a Rock.

    • jannatwrites June 27, 2011 / 9:20 PM

      I’m glad God was there for you when the world was dark, Patti. I imagine it would be music to His ears when new believers call His name in desperation. That makes me think it’s a sad song when they forget all about God when everything seems ‘right’ again.

      I’m glad you stopped by to share your insight!

  9. Miss Rosemary June 27, 2011 / 7:35 AM

    I agree with Patti. That’s how I interpreted the song, but there could be many interpretations. I like the conclusion of your Friday night study because I’ve always had the image of a loving God.

    As far as personal suffering goes, I wasn’t able to look back at it clearly until afterwords as most people are, but I will say that I have become stronger for it. I was childish before and now I feel I’ve grown into a real woman because of it. Would I wish that I never had to endure it, sure, but I would not revert to the person I was before and I know that the only way I could have gotten rid of her was to go through the pain.

    • jannatwrites June 27, 2011 / 9:25 PM

      I think it’s pretty normal to not see any good in suffering until we’ve moved on, Miss Rosemary. Our painful experience do make us grow up in a sense. I’m with you on your sentiments….just like I’d love to stay healthy without exercise, I’d also love to grow as a person without misery.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I’m glad you stopped by 🙂

  10. Christine Lindsay June 30, 2011 / 11:28 AM

    I don’t know if God sends suffering into our lives or He allows it for greater pursposes. I think there are some questions I may not have a fuller understanding of until I get to Heaven. But I do know that suffering is felt by ALL in this world. And while I admit that I hate—absolutely hate—suffering, I do grow through it.

    It’s great to look back, after the suffering is over—and see God’s helping hand through my tough time. I also see Him using those sad times to encourage others. I’m amazed how He turns a sad thing into something really touching and wonderful. Seen Him do it so many times in my life.

    • jannatwrites June 30, 2011 / 7:34 PM

      It’s impossible to know for sure whether God sends suffering or allows it. Regardless of how painful circumstances happen, I do think there’s always a reason for it, even when I don’t see it.

      I have also seen sadness, or traumatic events, become blessings – but always when I look back after some time has passed. While I’m going through it, all I can seem to see is my own emotions.

      Thank you for visiting my blog, Christine. I am excited to read your debut novel after Carol’s post about it. I am disappointed that it doesn’t become available until September, though 🙂

  11. Carl D'Agostino June 30, 2011 / 1:29 PM

    Sometimes I think the people of North America and Japan and Europe have a cozy theological internal conversation with ourselves about suffering. But do we really have a clue what real suffering is a la Asia and Africa? Those people must be astonished that we the prosperous nations even have such conversations.

    • jannatwrites June 30, 2011 / 7:44 PM

      Well, Carl, I agree to a point. The ‘developed’ countries may be more prosperous, but it doesn’t mean that we’re immune from suffering, and it doesn’t make our suffering any “less.”

      Daily life is more difficult in developing countries, and we are spoiled with more gadgets and trinkets than we need, but we all feel the pain of losing someone too soon, we all encounter events that shake the stability of our world, and we’ve all been a shoulder to cry on – and have found another’s shoulder when we needed one.

  12. Ann Scott February 25, 2013 / 8:58 AM

    My husband and I saw the video to this song and just could not understand how this song could make sense

    Now we do. Our almost 21 year old son was killed by someone else while at college, two months ago. The tears, heart ache, having to in our minds release our son from this earth and then just trusting God has all felt like what this song sings of. The pure knowledge that in this world we really don’t have control, but that God does, gives Him all the glory. When we released what happened to our son, as God having a divine plan that we really know nothing about, it makes us have to praise HIM and acknowledge Him as All Powerful. These feelings are overwhelming in me. I can’t help but know that God finds joy in knowing I am acknowledging Him in having all the power. He tells us in the bible to praise Him. That’s all I can do now and I know He is caring for us. There are so many examples of how He has provided for us immediately to needs we have had. I know God isn’t a mean God. He is good and He HAS a plan. An everlasting one! Our son IS alive in Eternity thanks to Jesus’s gift of salvation and grace. … Better than a hallelujah!

    • jannatwrites February 25, 2013 / 8:45 PM

      Thank you for sharing your touching story, Ann. I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I have two sons myself and can’t imagine the heartbreak you’ve gone through. I am glad that you’ve found comfort in knowing (and trusting) God’s ultimate plan, even during this most difficult time.

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