What Songs Should We Sing In Light Of Haiti?

As I prepared for this past Sunday’s worship set I had a very heavy heart. The stories and images coming out of Haiti are truly heart breaking and challenging at many levels. This past week Dennis Miller was asking for Christians to call into his radio show and explain how God allows this to happen. I listened every day as people would call in and espouse 1 of 2 theories.

God had nothing to do with this, this was Satan. or…

  1. This is direct punishment for Haitians sin.

It was frustrating and painful to hear people either run away from God’s sovereignty and appoint the power to call creation into action to Satan, or to run from grace and appoint judgment onto Haiti that all nations deserve and are under. It pains me to hear Christians disavowing the sovereign rule and reign of God over all creation, but it also pains me to hear Christians claiming they know why this happened. What a disgusting measure of pride in both circumstances. If you haven’t read Albert Mohler’s post on “Does God Hate Haiti?” I implore you to go read it.

So all of this is happening in my mind as I pray about what my responsibility is as a worship leader in light of what’s happening. It was a very similar feeling I felt after 9/11 and I remember the feeling that the church had no songs to sing after 9/11 because we tend to overlook worshiping in lament. Though the Psalms are full of worship in lament, our churches are usually void of them.

I felt it important for our church to not run from the gospel and hide in either of the extremes I mentioned above. That in light of what’s happening in Haiti we should respond corporately in a few ways:

1. We should grieve and mourn with those in Haiti

Romans 12:15 spells it out clearly, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.Starting out the service with big smiles and happy clappy, dance in the aisles music seemed ill-fitting at best when viewed in the shadow of 50,000 dead with another 100,000 yet to be found. Paul says we should rejoice in our suffering, but doesn’t say we should rejoice in others suffering. In fact he says quite the opposite in 1 Corinthians 12:26 when discussing church unity:

“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (ESV)

Before and during our worship set we had a lot of prayer, acknowledging the heartache and suffering. And we mourned with those in Haiti dealing with this devastation first hand.

2. Worship the all sovereign God

The church has to recognize God’s sovereignty in all things. That God’s ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts and he has plans and purposes that we don’t see. I don’t see the number of earthquakes God has held back, the hurricanes he’s calmed or the tsunamis he’s diverted. Matt Chandler said,

“The entire universe is built around communicating to you that you’re tiny and you’re fragile and you control nothing.”

We are tiny and God is great, all powerful, all sovereign and all good. This earthquake as well as all creation should point us to God and illuminate his divine attributes (sovereignty being one of them). Romans 1:20:

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Our worship set was filled with these songs, every song had this at its core. Our God Reigns, The Solid Rock, Whole World In His Hands.

3. Worship the merciful, loving, good God

God loves Haiti, he loves the people of Haiti and his heart is grieved. At the cross we see God’s perfect justice meet his perfect mercy, grace and love. We live in the aftermath of that collision on the cross and our hearts should be eternally grateful. Ephesians 2:4-7

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

We opened with God of This City, a song I think does an amazing job of communicating God’s sovereign rule, but that things aren’t yet as they should be. That God is still at work.

4. Serve the broken and minister to the lost

If all you have is great context and point of view without your heart being impacted and propelled towards acts of kindness and mercy, then there’s a disconnect with the gospel. My heart is warmed by the tremendous outpouring from the Christian community towards Haiti. There are so many different avenues of service and help happening right now and they all are orchestrated under the mercy, grace and sovereignty of God.

I think it it incredibly important for our worship to not hide from any of these things in this time. Our view of the gospel in our worship needs to be enriched not diluted. We can’t hide from this and we shouldn’t try and cloak God or any of his divine attributes to make it more palatable to the world. I beg my fellow worship leaders to point their churches, their community to the gospel in this season. In devastation and loss their is great opportunity for God to be magnified, for the lost to be pointed to Christ and for the church to be mobilized to show Christ’s love.

One of the songs we did which I really felt God appointed for us in this time is a song by Tim Hughes called “Whole World In His Hands.” I’ll finish with the lyrics to that song.

Verse 1
When all around is fading
And nothing seems to last
When each day is filled with sorrow
Still I know with all my heart

Chorus
He’s got the whole world in His hands
He’s got the whole world in His hands
I fear no evil for You are with me
Strong to deliver, mighty to save
He’s got the whole world in His hands

Verse 2
When I walk through fire
I will not be burned
When the waves come crashing round me
Still I know with all my heart

[via Our Rising Sound]
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