|Widows of Burundi, singing praise to God|
But the suffering in the world today is not limited to Christians. At the moment, 62 countries are engaged in wars, with 555 militia-guerilla groups involved (Wars in the World website). The possibility of resolving these conflicts seems nearly hopeless. Another major issue, healthcare, offers staggering statistics. According to the website Global Issues, 21,000 children around the world die every day. Over 1000 people in West Africa have lost their lives to Ebola.
On our own streets in North America we see hatred and violence; in our schools and neighborhoods we witness intolerance and bullying. Children are snatched from their homes, people we look up to hang themselves. Addictions, mental health problems, broken relationships, poverty, innumberable social issues... everywhere around us we see the landscape littered with victims of our world's woes.
How should we respond when we see our world falling apart around us?
The scriptures tell us that we should sing. No head-in-the-sand ostrich music. No whistling in the dark. No strains of I am strong, I am invincible. We are called to sing songs of praise to the God who rules over all.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;One of my favorite Old Testament stories is found in 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat found himself and the Israelite army facing the armies of three nations and he cried out to God."We have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us," he prayed, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you" (13). The Lord responded: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's" (15). The people fell before the Lord in worship; some from their group began to praise God with loud voices. Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever." As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the [enemies] and they were defeated (21-22)
sing praise to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
It was no talisman, this singing, no good luck charm. They did not sing in order to get something from God. Singing was their response to the faithful God of all the earth. They praised him for the splendor of his holiness. They praised him because his love endures forever. They praised him because he is worthy. They lifted their eyes from their circumstances and hoped in God.
It was the same attitude of Paul and Silas had when they were in prison (Acts 16:16-40). It's not a place you would expect to find a prayer meeting and songfest, but we are told that about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the other prisoners were listening to them (23). In response, a violent earthquake shook the prison, the chains of all the prisoners were loosed and the prison doors flew open. Is that not a testimony to the power of God! When the jailer found all of the prisoners still in the jail, he was converted to Christ. I'm guessing more than one of the prisoners was too.
What should be our response to the terrible things in our world today? We should look to the God of the whole world, the God who knows what is happening and who alone can set things rights. Even in the bleakest situations, God is still God. He calls us to pray and to sing his praises.
Let us, like Jehoshaphat, pray: "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you." Let us remember that the battle is the Lord. And let us sing and praise God, who is faithful.
Let there be singing.