. . . when I can’t sing . . .

There is no sweet nectar . . .

. . . anywhere. Returning home after a few days away, I noticed the three hummingbird feeders drained of all liquid. Used up . . .

These tiny birds love that sweet liquid and will sip all day ignoring the fragrant flowers and vines right under their long, sword like beaks. But this morning with feeders still empty, they were busily feasting on the red and orange blooms, not grumbling for the lack of their favorite food. Darting here and there from one flower to another, they seemed to be just as content, thankful for their meals.

I pondered. . . how do I respond when my preferred source of nourishment has vanished? 

I’ve been cleaning out old notebooks, journals and old Bible studies. There comes a time when you begin discarding much of your past experiences. Page after page found its way into the trash can when these words flew right off the page as I began tossing it. . . .

  “The only way I know you are trusting me is that you praise me.”

Did I write that? Is that true?

Worn words written twenty five years ago. Looks like my writing. I attribute that line of wisdom to a sweet Bible teacher leading a retreat at Fairhaven — Tennessee in 1998. I can remember those words reigning true in my life. That was long, long ago when life was simpler. . . when my  feeder was full of sweet nectar. No major crashes . . .

Weddings celebrated, grandbabies born. Trust was possible, real. I was fluent in praise.  Complications could surface as surely as life happens, but nothing so serious to disrupt my flow of praise.

Our decade in Europe with the International Mission Board brought continued trust and precious time in singing praises. Serving in Vienna and Copenhagen was the high point of our ministry. Health issues there did not dampen our music as we rejoiced in loving the peoples of the world.  

Praise came so easily . . . trusting my Lord was a way of life.

NOW . . . the sweet nectar is gone . . .

The Babylonians demanded the Jewish captives to sing. Not just any perfunctory song, but one of joy. “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” In Psalm 137, we can sense the pain of those sitting around the banks of the rivers in a foreign country, trying to remember happier days in Jerusalem .

They could not sing. . .

I like to imagine that they did sing —-  a silent song, one not heard by their tormentors, but heard only by their God. A song deep within their hearts, reflecting love and praise to the God they knew, but now He appeared absent. He hears the songs I cannot sing NOW. He hears the praises I cannot voice— He sings over me the songs I am unable to whisper. 

What a beautiful thought that our heavenly Father sings over me . . . and you. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

The Psalms are full of cries and lament unto the Lord. David was unashamed in sharing emotions, in being honest before Him. Seventy percent of the songs recorded there are classified as lament Psalms and were readily used in worship.

There are reasons I am having difficulty  praising. And trusting. . .  Some of you will understand the lament of this blog; others cannot imagine because you are brimming over with sweet nectar. 

  • I have begun doing research on the subject of child sexual abuse for a book I would like to write. Interviewing and hearing the stories of precious lives is a personal battle for me. Please pray I succeed in giving hope to victims of this grave wrongdoing. This is a year long process. (I will be seeking a prayer team to surround me in this project.)
  • The brokenness of family . . . loss of relationships. Tom’s mother once said, “There are things much more devastating than death.” 
  • STRESS  . . .  my doctor told me this week that due to my history of Lyme disease, Q-fever, high histamine levels, my body is unable to handle stress.

What to do when I can’t praise? When I have difficulty trusting? 

  • I listen to instrumental music –no words. Words surface from memory, ever so gently, restoring my soul. Right now—- There is a Balm in Gilead is playing softly in the background. . .
  • I read the Psalms–the other thirty percent of joy and praise!
  • Tom hugs me often
  • I begin mornings in gentle peace

20190816_094353 (2).jpg

Tom’s cup from Austria says, Ich bin Der Weinstock, John 15:5. . .  I am the true vine

Are you struggling to trust and praise NOW in these moments? Perhaps you can share how you are learning to sing  again. . .

“By day the Lord directs His love, at night, His song is with me—a prayer (a low moan -my words) to the God of my life.” Psalm 42: 8

About oct17

The little girl in me loves bird watching, butterflies, sunrises, sunsets, walks in the rain; the adult I am enjoys the same. I sense God's awesomeness in all of life--what wonder there is in slicing a leek or cutting open a pomegranate. I have many favorite things--a formation of Canadian geese flying overhead, the giggles of my grand daughters, the first ripe watermelon in summer, snowflakes on my face--these gifts from my heavenly Father delight me continually.
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7 Responses to . . . when I can’t sing . . .

  1. Margaret Cowan says:

    Love your post again! Sometimes it’s hard to sing but I just keep trusting Jesus that the Lord will give me a new song of praise!

  2. benoysimon says:

    Hi Barb, So nice to go through your impressions as you skim over life’s challenges. What better book can there be but the Bible! So inspiring the way you see life! Stay blessed – you and Tom, always remember your sincerity and love !!

  3. emount1000@aol.com says:

    This is very very good! What brought me stronger on the paths of my journey? PRAISE HIM ANYWAY!The only thing God cannot do for me. . . .is to praise Him! We make that choice. My prayer is that you write your book. Years ago, I had planned to interview others on mental abuse in marriages. Compile others’ stories. But I really think your book will help others to hear they are not alone and healing is possible. I know, because I am one who was broken and through the love of Jesus, I was made whole! Keep up the good work God has begun in you! Phillipians 1:6Love youElaine M.

  4. Ingrid says:

    …. when I can’t sing…. Inside me it is silent, no song, no praise, almost no word escapes my mouth. I know, the Lord is around me, I know He guides me, He takes care of me but in my mind there is no single word of praise, I am preoccupied with something else. But I trust in the fact, if I myself can’t praise and sing, somebody else will do it instead of me until I am strong enough to do it myself again.

    Thank you Barb!!!

  5. Mary Ann Elmore says:

    I always love to read the beautiful expressions that flow from your mind to the printed page.
    “The only way I know you love Me is that you praise Me.” This quote brought to mind one of my favorite verses “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice in it and be glad.”
    (Psalm 118:24). I make a conscious decision that this is the way that I am starting my day. Then I start to list in my mind the countless blessings that God is so abundantly pouring on me that “my cup just runs over”! I serve a Wonderful, Awesome, Loving God who is more that able to take down the giants that confront me in my daily life. I like to think of the moments when God is working in my circumstances as the “miracle of ordinary days”. Noticing the miracle of a tiny humming bird, a beautiful fluttering butterfly, gorgeous blooming flowers just makes me want to praise God–He puts a song in my heart!

    • oct17 says:

      You have expressed so beautifully the perfect way to begin the day- my Pollyanna self knows that. Often these days, she is hiding behind a tree. . .

  6. Lori Harvey says:

    Romans8:26….. have a look. I pray my life would allow me to be a better friend to you. God has filled my life with work and his work. My prayers are with you.

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