Every Sunday, there are sufferers attending your Sunday morning worship services. Whether you can see it or not, grief and sorrow is always overwhelming someone in the room. Occasionally, though, grief strikes an entire church body to the core. That has been our church body over the last week. On Sunday, two weeks ago, we prayed over a sweet family as the husband was to begin a new ministry role in our church serving as the deacon of global missions. We gathered around the family and laid hands on them in prayer not knowing the circumstances they would face just two days later. With no warning, their one-year-old son passed from this world.
On the night of his death, there were several church members who had gathered to visit the family. After receiving the news that baby Gabriel would soon pass, many of the visiting church members gathered in the small hospital chapel. By the time I filed into the chapel, you could already hear the precious sound of trembling voices beginning to sing. At a loss for words to pray, they sang.
They sang the following:
- It is Well with My Soul
- He Will Hold Me Fast
- Lord From Sorrow Deep I Call
- The Goodness of Jesus
- Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor
- Christ is Mine Forevermore
- Psalm 23 (Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy)
- Is He Worthy?
They didn’t have to google songs for the sorrowful soul. They sang songs that they knew by heart. They sang many of the songs that we often sing in our congregation regularly. They sang songs rich with the theology that they had rehearsed for such a time as this.
Pastor, your worship set and song bank for Sunday mornings is more than a chance to impress the visitor. Its more than a chance to create a particular energy or worship environment. The songs you lead your church to sing contain the prayers they will need to pray in their affliction. Give them the theology they will need to remember, but won’t have the strength to articulate through anything but song.
Think deeply about the words you put on the lips of your beloved congregation. Be intentional with the prayers prayed, songs sang, and Scripture read when you gather on the Lord’s day. You are preparing a people to shine brightly for the glory of Christ in the depths of the deepest kinds of darkness. I am beyond thankful for our associate pastor, Drew O’Neal, who gives himself to prayer every week particularly over the way in which he will shepherd us through song. The fruit of his labor was made evident this week.
“Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
What Christ-exalting songs do you turn to in your sorrow? Leave a comment below!