19 April 2012

I would be frail

In high school I had a group of friends who really liked Jars of Clay. I, media ignoramus that I was, could barely recognize the name, and had only listened to a few of their songs. What I heard, I liked. But I never investigated further.

Dead Man (Carry Me) by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

In college I had a roommate who really liked Jars of Clay. Jars, of course, was no longer cutting edge, but I finally realized how much I loved their music. After those two semesters, I knew they had to be one of my favorite groups ever, Christian or otherwise. Here's why: my roommate and I struggled through that year. It was so rough. Not between us, just with life. Homework. Illness. Theology. Boys. (BOYS.) We got little to no sleep, we cried, we held each other up.

At night we'd flop on our beds and say "Oh, what a day. Let's pray." And we would. And there was usually something from Jars of Clay playing on her iTunes.
You are my eyes when I cannot see
You are my voice, see, sing through me
You are my strength in weakness be
Somehow it always fit. (I miss you, Vanessa.)

Frail by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

Since then, I've been the person who really likes Jars of Clay. The other day I figured out one of the main reasons why: they sing about sadness. In their lyrics, life hurts. Things get confusing. We doubt. We struggle.
And we sing while the city's burning
No room, no escape, no plan
We all never thought it would end this way
We veer perilously near to despair, even as we beg for faith.

Two Hands by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

They know that to live means bearing pain. Even God, sometimes, means pain.
Do I want shelter from the rain
Or the rain to wash me away? 
Yet He is always mighty to save. 
This is the one thing,
The one thing that I know.
They can somehow lament a broken world without cursing God.

Hymn by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

That, I think, is rare and precious: an ability to acknowledge the world's and our own corruption, yet simultaneously praise the Lord. To ignore neither grief nor joy. You can't paint either of those things out of your picture of the world. I am learning this.
All of these things I've held up in vain
Scared out of my mind by the demons I've made
Sweet Jesus, you never ever let me go
It's like the psalm I posted on Monday. The singer begins in deep distress, with days passing away like smoke and a heart lonely as a desert owl. None of this darkness gets a candy coating.  

However, in the very same psalm: "From heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise."
No one loves me like you
No one loves me the way you do
Jesus Blood Never Failed by Jars of Clay on Grooveshark

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