How would it feel if you came to church next Sunday and there was no singing? We’d still have the preaching of God’s Word, corporate prayers, and communion. Wouldn’t that be an adequate worship service? When we sing at church, I believe we aren’t just singing to God; we’re also singing for one another.
Singing truths about God gives hope
In the Bible, we see a pattern of God’s people singing out of the overflow of their hearts in response to God’s great works. There are many instances we can point to in the Bible, but one example is the story of Paul and Silas singing in jail in Acts 16. They were imprisoned and wrongly beaten for freeing a fortune-telling girl from a demonic spirit, and her owners were angry. What strikes me is why Paul and Silas would be singing. How could they be in a singing mood when such wrong was done to them? Most people in a similar situation may protest loudly or ask for their lawyer to get them out as soon as possible. But instead, Paul and Silas patiently prayed and sang hymns.
Why? The only explanation is that Paul and Silas were filled with the Spirit and were experiencing the peace of Christ in a dark and unsettling situation. What gives us peace in dark times but the promises of God and his steadfast love for us? Paul would later write in his letter to the Colossians (Col 3:16) to let the Words of Christ dwell richly in our hearts to sing psalms and hymns (presumably to and with one another). Here, we see he personally practiced the same things he exhorted us to do. No doubt Paul and Silas were thankful to be servants of Christ, willing to suffer and endure injustice to see the gospel go forth, even in the jail they were in. They knew God would be their deliverer. The forces of evil could not stop this gospel from advancing. This was a mere pit stop that God was going to use for his glory. This passage shows that singing also has another purpose outside of ourselves.
Singing truths about God displays hope
Paul and Silas’ prayer and songs likely impacted others. It says in Acts 16:25 that other prisoners were listening to them. I wonder what kind of impact that must have made. It appears the jailer was affected as he sought salvation from his sins and was later baptized. Could other prisoners that day have received the Lord Jesus as their Savior? Possibly.
When we sing in church together, we are displaying the hope we have in God, and that can be a strengthening experience. When I come to church and sometimes feel lukewarm during our time of singing, I need only to look around to gain some perspective. A few months ago, my faith was surprisingly strengthened as I observed a few folks singing passionately.
First, a dear friend of ours (a single mom who comes from a Muslim background) was crying and lifting her voice and arms as we sang “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham. She had been going through a very difficult divorce but had recently found salvation in Christ and was leaning on the God of all comfort through this very difficult time. I could sense her joy of knowing Christ as Savior but also as a friend as she sang the chorus, “Hallelujah, praise the one who set me free, Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me, You have broken every chain, there’s salvation in your name, Jesus Christ, my living hope.” God broke through the darkness of Islam and freed her to know the true life-giving power of Jesus. I was heartened as she clung to Jesus.
A few rows ahead of me was a dear brother whose wife had gone home to be with the Lord last year. I saw him praise God passionately and could only imagine his thankfulness that his dear wife is alive and well with Jesus. We sang true and comforting words in the chorus of the song “Rejoice” by The Modern Post: “When you cry to him, he hears your voice, He will wipe away your tears. Rejoice, in the midst of suffering, He will help you sing”. I believe God met this brother that morning and gave him renewed strength to sing. What a sweet moment. What a gracious Father in Heaven.
No doubt that church wouldn’t be the same without singing! Singing gives us more sufficient means to express our praises and thanksgiving to God through beautiful melodies and the ability to strengthen and encourage others. Both of these things are important to God and are his aims when we gather together. I hope the next time you come to church, you are more fully aware of how God uses your singing to help others and how God is using others to strengthen your faith.
~ Mike Yang