Sunday, June 26, 2011

Music Liners -- "Blessings" by Laura Story

Unless the station is out of range, my car radio is fixed on WGTS 91.9. I really like the station because, true to its motto, it is "family friendly" and streams contemporary Christian music all the time. As much as I like Hillsong United music, sometimes one needs a bit of variety and the WGTS provides that for me. When I want to listen to new music, the radio station is the best means of doing so. (I suppose Pandora would be good too, but I tend to prefer my own music collection when sitting at my desk.)

One of the songs I recently heard is "Blessings" by Laura Story. I think it is a remarkable song, because it speaks candidly about how we are toward God and what blessings could be. I'd say she attempts to debunk the false notion that difficulties in life are not the work of God. In my (humble) opinion, she does this very well. The song is even better by the fact that the only instrument used is a piano -- no drums, no guitar, just a piano and Story's soothing voice.

As the title of the song suggests, the subject of the song is on blessings and what they really entail. Laura Story delves into this topic by focusing on our typical behavior in relation to God: we tend to pray first for the safety for ourselves and our loved ones, "comfort for family", for "health" and for "prosperity". Not to say these prayers are wrong, but focusing too much on them displaces what should be the gospel of Jesus Christ -- that we are to love others and God, more than we love ourselves. It is with this premise that she introduces the woes that arise when hardships come our way. When we feel betrayed, lose our health and career, oftentimes our reaction is the feeling of being abandoned by God. But, as Story communicates in the story, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Have you ever gone through a difficult situation and realized afterward how beneficial it was? To the point of being thankful for the lessons you learned through the experience? Well, that is precisely what Laura Story is telling us through her song. That sometimes our greatest disappointments could be blessings given in disguise. Sometimes (or oftentimes) things do not work out the way we envisioned, but it doesn't mean that God has forsaken us. Not at all. Maybe there are better outcomes that requires us to grow, mature first. If everything always worked out the way we wanted, how would we know what grace and thanksgiving are?

There are a few lines from Story's song I really like:
"We cry in anger when we cannot feel you near, we doubt your goodness, we doubt your love..."
"What if your blessings come from raindrops, what if healing comes through tears"
"What if my greatest disappointments, or the achings of this life, is the revealing of greater things this world cannot satisfy"

When reading Story's lyrics, one immediately realizes that most of the verses are written in question form. This is for the effect -- as aforementioned-- to challenge readers about their preconceptions of what blessings are. The first verse quoted speaks of our typical reaction to hardships or difficulties. I know that personally, I behaved in this manner when disappointments came my way (e.g. turned down from jobs, Mandy). The feeling is very much akin to being abandoned, or wanting to throw up my arms in despair. Yet, in full agreement with the second verse, sometimes this is just how God operates -- of how His blessings work.

Yes, disappointments and failures are stinging and sometimes even be debilitating, but we should not regard them as the ultimate ends. Instead, they serve as the means to an end -- an end that is not revealed to us until much later. Story voices this in verse 3. This is similar to a biblical passage previously blogged about: that we are to "trust steadily, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly". We must believe that God is the one in control and no one else. With this in mind, our attitude is to trust in His plan for our lives and hope for the very best. Because if God is not the one in control, then who is?

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