When I was in college, one of the requirements for me as a music major was to take voice lessons. I've been singing for as long as I can remember, but this season during college was the only time that I've actually taken individual voice lessons. It was a great experience, and I loved the chance to regularly have dedicated time to focus on the art and technique of singing.
One of the songs I remember learning in voice lessons was a German one by Franz Schubert called Lachen Und Weinen. In case you're not up on your German vocabulary, Lachen Und Weinen means "Laughing and Crying". The opening lines of the song can be translated: Laughing and crying my heart has its seasons; Where is the cupid who knows all the reasons? It goes on to describe the experience of one who is sometimes laughing, sometimes crying and doesn't really know why.
I must admit I can relate all too well to this description at times. Anyone else ever have the experience where you're crying and you're not totally sure why you're crying? Or if that's not you, is there maybe someone in your life who's done this from time to time? Perhaps you're the one wishing you could be the "cupid" on behalf of your friend or loved one?
I'm sorry to say but from what I can tell, there is no one person who can actually know all the reasons why another person is laughing or crying. This whole discerning what's really going on inside a person is hard enough when it comes to our own hearts, let alone trying to see inside someone else's.
Isn't that frustrating though? Take toddlers for example - particularly ones who seem to be especially prone to crying. Let's say your daughter can't find her pink socks, but rather than just grabbing another pair because you were supposed to leave five minutes ago, she begins to cry inconsolably, lamenting that her pink socks are "gone forever!" You might find yourself questioning if the reaction over the lost socks is really purely due to the lost socks, or if just maybe, there is some other reason for this level of emotional output.
There is a phrase I once came across in a book by Rob Bell, and I think it applies to more situations than we might think. The phrase is, "This is actually about that". What if your daughter's pink sock lament is not actually about pink socks at all? What if it's about the kid who made fun of her hair and left her feeling a bit more tender than usual, unable to process a problem like her missing socks?
Or what if your deep reaction to that song you recently heard is not actually about the beauty of the music, it's about the way it reminds you of your grandfather and the way he used to play his violin? The reality is, there is always so much more going on inside of us - and those around us - than we can ever fully grasp.
But let's go back for a second to that song from my voice lessons. I said there is no one person who can know all the reasons why another person is laughing or crying. What I should have said is there is no one human person who can know all the reasons. There is, however, One who not only knows but also understands.
Jesus. Jesus, who has experienced what it's like to be fully human and who also wants to be our friend, to walk with us, to help us and share with us in both our laughing and our crying. The writer of Hebrews teaches us that "we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."
I must admit, so many times when I would read that verse, part of me assumed that Jesus was disappointed with me for not being able to do as well as He did. I would think, Yes, it's great that He understands me, but then doesn't He wish I would get my act together and not sin just like He didn't sin? But the very next verse comes to a different conclusion. It says, "Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Apparently, Jesus delights in showing mercy and giving grace. I might spend my whole life trying to wrap my head around this concept. How can it really be that Jesus, the only One who truly deeply knows what is going on inside me, accepts me and wants to help me? What am I supposed to do about this?
Perhaps one thing is to accept that God alone is the One who fully knows and understands both "this" and "that" in any situation. When I'm praying for myself or for someone else, I don't have to know all the reasons. In fact, I never will. But I can choose to come to the Lord with all of it.
Pray with me...
... Father, for those times when we're praying about "this" and You know it's actually about "that", show us what we need to know when we need to know it and help us to release it all to You
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
... God, for all the teachers, parents, and others who are working closely with ACSD students, give them a sensitivity to Your Spirit; help them to know when "this" might be about "that"
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
... Lord, take every part of ACSD and transform it to keep it aligned with Your Kingdom
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory