1276) “Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got the Blues”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYVXqr7M7QY

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Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got the Blues, 1958, by the ‘King of the Blues,’ B. B. King (1925-2015)

My pockets are empty, I feel so low
If somebody loves me, ain’t said so
And I got holes, in both of my shoes
Don’t look now, but I’ve got the blues.

There ain’t nobody on this old earth
Who’ll give a nickel for what I’m worth
I got more worries that I can use
Don’t look now, but I’ve got the blues.

Troubles everywhere
I act like I don’t care, but it’s not true
‘Cos I remember things, so many many things
But mostly, I remember you.

I’m gonna go some place else
And cry these tears all by myself
I ain’t got nothing left to lose
Don’t look now, but I’ve got the blues.

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“Blues” is a musical form which developed among African-Americans in the Deep South around the end of the 19th century.  Wikipedia notes, “Early blues frequently took the form of a loose narrative, often relating the troubles experienced in African-American society.”  This form of music has developed in many directions over the last 100+ years, but the focus on singing about life’s troubles has remained the same.  The phrase “singing the blues” has entered the English language as a description of any expression of sadness over one’s troubled life.

Sometimes the Christian life has been portrayed as always happy because faith in Jesus is just bound to make everything better.  Believing in Jesus does give us an eternal promise that can give us hope no matter what we go through, but in this world we will still be troubled.  It is foolish to pretend otherwise, though some Christians have attempted to do so.  But even the Bible ‘sings the blues,’ and it does so a good share of the time, as pointed out in the reading below.  The Psalms is the songbook of the Bible, and many of the Psalms ‘sing the blues’ (they are called ‘laments’), and so do many other parts of the Old and New Testament.  There is even an entire book in the Old Testament that sings the blues from beginning to end– the book of Lamentations.

The following was posted on Randy Alcorn’s website, http://www.epm.org, on October 7, 2016.  Alcorn has written more on the subject of evil and suffering in his 2009 book If God is Good.

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     Laments make up more than one-third of the psalms.  The contrast between Israel’s hymnbook and the church’s hymns says a great deal about our failure to acknowledge suffering.  If we don’t sing about suffering and struggle, why shouldn’t our people feel surprised when it comes?

     Read Psalm 88, arguably the most discouraging portion of the Bible:  “My soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave….  You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.  Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves….  My eyes are dim with grief….  Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me?”  And this is how it ends:  “You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.”

     Yet even then the psalmist cries out to “the God who saves me” (verse 1).

     The Psalms of lament grant us permission to express to God our honest questions, doubts, griefs and despair.  That our heavenly Father chose to include these as inspired Scripture suggests that parents should encourage emotional honesty in their children.  They should learn to voice to God and to us their disappointments, fears, and frustrations along with their dreams, happiness, and gratitude.  Certainly we should resist whining and self-pity, both in ourselves and our children.  But we should also guard against pretense and the silent seeds of disillusionment and bitterness.

     The book of Psalms brims with honest questions to God about evil and suffering and asks why God doesn’t intervene:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (10:1)

I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?” (42:9)

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? (44:23–24)

     By including laments in His inspired Word, God graciously invites our cries, so long as we remain willing to listen to His response.

     Musician Michael Card writes:

My experience with lament and with the living God occurred several years ago, when I was diagnosed with a degenerative liver disease.  My father had died when I was seventeen, and now faced with the possibility that I might die, leaving behind my seventeen-year-old son and fourteen-year-old daughter, I was overwhelmed with feelings of anger and confusion and pain.  When I finally let go and cried out to God, it was in fury and frustration that I unleashed on Him, accusing Him, questioning Him.  It did not make any sense to me.  How could a loving God allow my children to go through the pain that I had?  I had done all that He had asked of me.  I had been a faithful servant and made the right choices and sacrifices.  Why was He doing this to me?  How dare He?  I was certain that I had pushed Him too far, that I was now going to experience His wrath and condemnation for my ranting and unbelief.  But what I found instead was great mercy and tenderness.  I experienced His loving-kindness in a way that I never had before.  He had been waiting all along for me to come to the end of myself and fall on my knees before Him.  He had been waiting for me to be completely honest with who I was, instead of who I thought I should be.  And I realized that it was in my brokenness and weakness that I was truly able to know the tremendous love that my great God has for me.  He could take anything that I hurled at Him.  He was not going to let me go.  (Michael Card, A Sacred Sorrow, NavPress, 2005, page 9)

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Lamentations 1:20a  —  See, Lord, how distressed I am.  I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed.

Psalm 22:1  —  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

Jeremiah 15:18  —  Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable?  You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.

Habakkuk 1:2  —   How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?

Matthew 26:38-39  —  (Jesus) said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”  Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

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“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

–Jesus, Mark 15:34

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