New from Shane & Shane: Psalm 42 (Loudest Praise)

Come thou fount of every blessing.
Tune my heart to sing thy praise.
Streams of mercy never ceasing
call for songs of loudest praise.

I can’t sing this song enough. His mercies are too numerous to count. Too vast to measure. Unfathomable. Inexhaustible. Brand-new every day. Considering these never-ending streams of mercy in my life does indeed call me to praise.

And it never leaves me. “Your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6). I can rest assured that there will not be a day in this life without his mercy. It is, and will ever be, right beside me. I can take that to the bank. These streams of mercy, never ceasing, will never cease for all who have trusted their life to Jesus the Good Shepherd.

But wait.

How can this be? How can I reconcile that truth when my dad suddenly dies and I don’t have the chance to say goodbye? How can I reconcile God’s mercy when I’m witnessing three injections in my little girl’s body for the 1,000th time? How can I reconcile it when I step off a cliff of anxiety and depression for years at a time? Mercy? Never ceasing?

I was singing through Psalm 42 in one of these “super hard to believe mercy is following me” seasons. And I was really going for it. Did you know that most people’s singing is louder than their shouting? I know it is for me. It is the loudest noise I can possibly make, and I was making it.

Deep calls to deep
Waves of unbelief!
Breakers crash and bring me
falling to my knees!
It goes on and on and on!
Where is my God?
My salvation is in you and you alone!

For me, this didn’t feel like a streams-of-mercy moment. I was in streams of trouble. More than streams! Breakers of suffering and pain crashing over me, one after the next. And the trouble was calling, like deep calls to deep. As if the Spirit was pulling notes out of my mouth. Cries of confusion. Wails of “Where are you, God?” Laments in this dark night of the soul. Songs of loudest praise.

Come thou fount of living water
Tune my heart to bless your name

Streams of trouble never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

So is “trouble” interchangeable with “mercy”? No. Can you take “mercy” out of trouble? No. Does God seem to pull back the curtain of his mercy most poignantly in times of suffering? Yes. Is that completely counterintuitive to us? Yes. Are his ways as high as the heavens are above the earth? Yes. Can we trust him when we don’t understand? Yes.

Can he handle our complaints and laments? Yes.

Do you remember the song “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan? Do you remember the controversy over the “sloppy wet kiss” line? Yes, you read that right. It was real, and it was making Christian-music headlines. It didn’t take long for a small lyric change; “sloppy wet” was transformed into “unforeseen” and became palatable for Sunday services.

But do you know where that song came from? It was hitting the charts when John Mark was on the road with us. Late one night on the bus, I asked him how he wrote this song that was quickly becoming a YouTube sensation.

My dear friend teared up. He began to talk about an evening that happened seven years earlier, when he’d received a phone call out of the blue. His best friend had just been killed in a car accident. John Mark collapsed to the ground and, a few hours later, in a puddle of a sloppy-wet mess, began to pray:

We are his portion, and he is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking,
And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about, the way that he loves us

Oh how he loves us
Oh how he loves us
He is jealous for me,
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy

It never leaves. It’s not intimidated by death, or sin, or depression. In fact, it flexes in the sloppy-wet mess. So, if streams of mercy are feeling more like trouble today, lift your voice to Jesus who is mercy. Let the streams of trouble summon you to songs of loudest praise, and let those cries prepare you for an eternal weight of glory beyond all compare (2 Cor. 4:17).

New from Shane & Shane: Psalm 42 (Loudest Praise)

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