Worship Wednesday- Though You Slay Me
"The ability to experience true joy while simultaneously experiencing intense grief is an ability only the follower of Christ possesses." This was a phrase my pastor reminded us of this past weekend, encouraging us to rejoice always. I have to say, I whole-heartedly agree. This is yet another paradox of the Christian faith, along with being strong when we are weak, being wise when we seem fools, and living as a saint even though I’m still a sinner. Joy in the midst of sorrow is what this song reminds me of every time I hear it. Even though I experience the heavy hand of the Lord, I can still praise Him and worship Him, knowing that this pain will produce a joy exponentially more intense than the hardship. As Paul wrote, “This light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
This very passage is quoted by John Piper during the bridge of this song. It reminds me that there is purpose behind the pain, a sovereign hand behind the suffering. Nothing that anyone goes through in the path of obedience happens in vain. Therefore, I do not lose hope.
So why the creepy guitar player? This guy hangs in my living room. I seem him everyday. I imagine him singing this song too. He’s obviously been beaten down by life, struggling with some unknown affliction. And yet he plays. He is discouraged, yes, maybe even going through depression, but he stills shares one of his gifts with the world. Maybe it’s a comfort to him to play. I really don’t know what Picaso had in mind. You art experts can weigh in on that if you’d like. What I see is a man of sorrow, a man “slain” if you will be the world, and yet one who has the strength to play on, pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
As I sit on this end of a very hard season, it is easier to hear and sing this song. For many months I could only listen and hope. The weight of a failed marriage, shepherding my daughters, an unknown career path, losing my job and trying to find new friends was sometimes extremely overwhelming. However, looking back I'm starting to see God's hand through it all and joy is easier to grasp. I know I'm not alone in this. I have friends all over the place who have gone through similar things. Not necessarily the same circumstances, but certainly the same response of trusting God through the valley of trial. I have an old college friend (she's not old, but it's been a while since college... you get it) who has walked the trial of parenting a child with an intense medical condition, and yet she and her husband respond with joy and seeking to help others rather than turn to despair. I'm sure there are moments of despair, but as I said earlier, they are tempered with the sweet joy of hope in Christ. I have other old friends who have lost their spouse, their job, their child, all suddenly and with no immediate explanation. And yet all of them have found hope in Jesus. How amazing is that?
Perhaps you are in the middle of a trial. Are you able to praise the Lord through it all? Do you feel the joy in the midst of sorrow? Are you able to rejoice, knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance? I don't mean the trivial happiness we see painted on the faces of those around us. Even as I type this I'm sitting in a beautiful hotel in Las Vegas, surrounded with these painted faces of "temporary vacation joy." What I mean is the unshakeable eternal joy this song speaks of. The joy that is rooted in Christ, looking towards that blessed day that will either come through the veil of death or the bright glory of Christ's return.
This is why we can sing to the One who is all we need. This is why, though He slay me, yet I will praise Him. If you are despairing, if you are lost, look to Christ. He is more than enough, and His joy is so satisfying, especially through the darkest journeys of this life.
Though You Slay Me
by Joshua Moore / Brian Woods / Lauren Chandler / Shane Barnard / Bethany Joy Barnard
I come, God, I come, I return to the Lord
The one who's broken, The one who's torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up, You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering
Though You slay me Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need
My heart and flesh may fail, The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I'll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day, Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I'll know every tear was worth it all
Though tonight I'm crying out, "Let this cup pass from me now"
You're still all that I need. You're enough for me
You're enough for me