Day 117 | Suffering and the Problem with Christian Songs

July 4, 2017

This post is directed toward my fellow Christians but I’ve done my best to write it in a way that doesn’t exclude those who believe differently than I do. I wanted to share this because it’s what’s been on my heart today but I never want any of my readers to feel like they don’t belong on my blog. I’m trying hard to balance that but I recognize that I might not get it right all the time. So, feel free to let me know how I did!


This morning I remembered that I can listen to music now that my sound hypersensitivity is gone! I realized though that I don’t have any music. I lost my iTunes library when I got a new phone. Normally I would sync a new phone to my computer but my computer got left behind at my parent’s house because it was contaminated with biotoxins that are a problem for me.

As a Christian and a dancer, music was always one of my favorite ways to process my feelings and connect with God. What a bitter irony it was to lose my ability to take pleasure in music when I most needed its comfort. Instead of beauty, I heard chaos. Instead of spiritual peace, it brought physical agony and panic. It felt like a cruel joke. The overstimulation was so excruciating that I had no choice but to stop listening to music altogether.

As you can imagine, I was excited to reconnect with the music-loving part of me this morning while I did the laundry. So, I googled for a YouTube Playlist. I picked the first one that came up and started listening.

At first, I liked what I heard as I agitated our clothes over: songs about the beauty, majesty and love of our great God. But then songs started coming up that really rubbed me the wrong way. They made it sound like God would always fix our problems if we just ask with enough faith.

I knew that wasn’t true. After all, I have earnestly pleaded for deliverance over and over during these devastating years of illness and my prayers were met with silence. Jesus, the son of God himself, asked for another way and God did not spare Him from the cross. Some may argue that I did not have sufficient faith to get the results I wanted but no one can say that Jesus didn’t.

Then a song came on called “Chain Breaker” and that was it. I was done with this playlist!

The worst part of the song went like this:

“There’s a better life
, 
There’s a better life

If you’ve got pain
,
He’s a pain taker

If you feel lost

He’s a way maker…”

Is this technically true? Yes, it is! I do believe that Jesus came to heal and restore us (I’ll get to that later) but this song is so misleading. It goes on to say…

“If you believe it

If you receive it

If you can feel it

Somebody testify”

What in the world?! This makes it sound like the healing is just sitting there waiting for us to accept it. I’m sorry but this is not a truthful or compassionate understanding of suffering. If I had gone into my illness with this theology, my faith would have been crushed and probably destroyed. This is not the kind of song sufferers need.

Now, I’m not trying to pick on this song writer in particular. There are plenty of other Christian songs with the same problematic themes.

In fact, as I was thinking about this, I was reminded of a song we used to sing in church when I was a kid. If you grew up in church you may have sung it too. It goes like this…

“I’m trading my sorrows,
I’m trading my shame,
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.

I’m trading my sickness,
I’m trading my pain,
I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.”

I have really fun memories of jumping up and down and shouting the chorus, “Yes Lord! Yes Lord! Yes, yes Lord!!!” It was a blast!

But now that I know what it means to suffer deeply, I see that this is just a super-catchy song full of perfectly empty words! As if we can just decide to trade our suffering away! I wish!

Maybe you can do that with a stomach bug that would have resolved in two days anyway, but when you’re faced with a crippling chronic illness you realize that you’re really not in control of your own health. God is not a vending machine and our faith is not a bunch of quarters that can get us what we want.

The hard reality we need to grapple with is that God never promised us healing on this side of Heaven. Suffering saints die every day, still in the midst of devastating suffering. For many, deliverance never comes… or rather, never comes in this life.

And that my friends, is the answer to the problem of these shallow songs. Heaven! This is how we can have “the joy of the Lord”, not instead of our pain and sorrow, but in the middle of our pain and sorrow.

If we want people to be able to endure deep sorrow with true courage we need to give them a finish line to look forward to. A hope that is strong enough to carry them through even a lifetime of darkness. The only hope I know of that is robust enough to match the depth of our earthly sorrows is Heaven.

Because the truth is, even if I was miraculously healed today, nothing in this world could ever make up for the agony I’ve already endured. Even the good things that are a direct result of my pain are not enough to make me say, “It was all worth it.” No way!

My increased gratitude and enjoyment of life isn’t enough. My ability to connect with others who are suffering isn’t enough. My inspiring story that is helping people isn’t enough. And no, even the spiritual growth that came out of my pain is not enough to make it worth it.

And that’s okay! It’s not supposed to be enough! Only in Heaven will we receive final comfort for our suffering. Only in heaven will we be completely and permanently healed. Then, Jesus will take away our pain. Everything will be made right and all our deepest longings will finally be fulfilled.

Not only will our bodies be made new but the earth itself will also be renewed. We will eat and drink, work and play, love and laugh, in a community of real people on a real earth. No more evil and death, no more sickness and destruction.

Only in Heaven will we be able to look back on our stories and see the purpose behind our pain. We will see all the ways God was loving us and working for our eternal good even in the midst of crushing circumstances. Then, when we receive the reward that our suffering has wrought we will finally be able to say, “it was all worth it.”

Until then, we would do best to write compassionate songs that take into account that there exists a kind of suffering that will never be healed on this earth. Even in situations when the healing does come on this side of Heaven we may find that it is not enough to make up for the suffering. I am certainly finding that in my own healing journey.

So, in closing I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes from Dostoyevsky:

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”

That’s what I’m banking my hope on. Not some “pain-taking” vending machine. And I hope that you, dear soul, will join me.


By the way, Brett and I made a beautiful PDF of my favorite resources for suffering souls. I created the content and he made it look fancy with his superduper graphic design skills. It’s available for free to my email subscribers. Click here to sign up and receive 5 Resources for the Suffering Soul.

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89 Comments

  • Courtney Harris

    This is beautiful and SO GOOD, Ana!

    July 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Courtney! 💕

      July 6, 2017 at 8:48 am Reply
      • Sean

        Awesome…..also…read Oswald Chambers…..there in his writings you find the reality you speak of.. but so much more. My Utmost For His Highest is great….but his full volume books are the best!

        July 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm Reply
  • Laura Davison

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this, Ana! It’s all so true, but there can be so much pressure to be better, or to consider it all worth it. And, well, that’s super unhelpful. So thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. I needed to read it.

    July 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      You’re so welcome! I totally understand about the pressure Laura!

      July 6, 2017 at 9:11 am Reply
  • Alyssa

    Thanks for sharing this, Ana! I think you’re totally right on the the true direction that “suffering” songs should point to is heaven. And it’s interesting to see that this is how a lot of hymns end:

    Amazing Grace: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years…”
    Come Ye Sinners: “I will rise and go to Jesus…”
    All Creatures of our God and King: “He shall return in power to reign…”
    It is Well: “And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight…”
    Jesus Paid it All: “And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete…”
    Be Still my Soul: “The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord…”

    (Wow, even typing those out really convicted me about checking the theology of the songs I listen to, sing at church, and write!)

    And thanks for the honesty that your growth or encouraging others doesn’t balance for what you’re going through. Only the hope of a perfect heaven and new earth with God is! Unfortunately, in my lack of suffering, I don’t appreciate that hope as much as you probably do now, but this article has definitely convicted me about that! Praying for you, sister!

    July 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for this comment Alyssa! You’re so right about the hymns! Thanks for taking the time to type that out.

      July 6, 2017 at 11:38 am Reply
  • Michelle

    Amen Sister!

    July 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      🙂

      July 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm Reply
  • Bridget

    Love this, Ana! As I’ve wrestled with Lyme disease, I’ve found that I need to constantly remind myself of the hope I have in my future with Christ, when the struggle will finally be replaced with perfection. Nothing in this world could possibly make this “worth it.” It is only Christ, and knowing that our pain in life will make the next life with him that much sweeter — that’s what will one day make it worth it.

    July 5, 2017 at 6:28 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much for sharing sister! That’s exactly right! I’m sorry you’re still struggling with Lyme. I didn’t know that. 💕

      July 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm Reply
  • Steven Froehlich

    Ana, your thoughts remind me of an observation Joni Eareckson Tada made several years ago. She was reflecting on all the “encouragement” she received from Christians after she first became quadriplegic. “God wants you to walk… to be healed… so believe and claim it. God wants what’s best for you – he wants you free of suffering.” And she described how she went down the list asking for everything imaginable. Yet her physical condition remained unchanged. She reflected, “Over the years I have learned that God may not give us what we ask for, but he always gives us himself.” Truly, he never withholds his best gift — himself.

    July 5, 2017 at 6:52 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Exactly! Thanks Pastor Steve! I love Joni’s writing. So true!

      July 6, 2017 at 2:44 pm Reply
  • Kiersten

    Great reflections today! I shared it with a friend whose mom has been dealing with disease for several years. Hopefully it’s encouraging to them too! Love you!

    July 5, 2017 at 7:50 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Kiersten! Thanks for reading and sharing. I love you too! 💕

      July 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm Reply
  • Ruth H.

    Great post, Ana! Too true. . .
    When times are really hard, I listen to some of the songs on the album “Beauty Will Rise” by Stephen Curtis Chapman. I also love the songs “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin, “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle, “Even If” by Mercy Me and “I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North. Laura Story also has encouraging music.

    July 5, 2017 at 8:07 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for the song suggestions Ruth! I love the album “Beauty Will Rise”!

      July 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm Reply
  • Sally

    I have known this to be true that I read from a Bible scholar who must have also endured much waiting for God to answer his prayers:

    Waiting

    The traps were set
    There was scurrying, fighting, fleeing
    but what was truly set in motion
    that day was confinement

    It is not wise for a rat to invade
    a Garden kept by a Master Gardener
    It is not wise for the rats to steal
    and believe that all will be well

    Will Judgment come in time?
    Will it?
    More rats enter, sacks in hand,
    ready, more than ready to steal
    and the innocent are plundered
    while the Master Gardener watches

    When will action be taken?
    When will the greedy thieves
    be punished, removed?
    When will the Master Gardener
    determine that the sooner He acts
    the better?

    The innocent are abused,
    beaten, stolen from, slandered,
    accused of vile deeds . . .
    and the suffering is that of those
    betrayed by loved ones

    The suffering marks the heart
    in wild contempt
    because faith was the banner
    all their days
    and they spoke of the Father’s Strength
    and Power
    and Compassion
    and Justice
    but on this day
    nothing is done

    Why?
    Is suffering something God enjoys watching?
    Does He feel like Justice is being done
    to allow mankind to suffer?

    Where is the God of the Bible
    when the innocent suffer
    and the faithful are denied care?

    Is He hiding behind a tree?
    Is He on vacation?
    Does He not hear the moaning, the groaning?
    Does He not see the pain and anguish?
    If you can’t call for God’s help, then who?

    And the days ended more of the same
    The people awaited a Savior
    The innocent were abused
    The poor became poorer
    The hungry more hungry
    The distraught had lost all hope
    and still . . . there was not Justice
    or Compassion shown

    Are we in transition?
    Is this an era where God
    refuses to act on behalf of mankind
    despite the promises of help
    etched in stone?

    You know we are hopeless without God
    We are a race which will utterly destroy itself
    because we have sought freedom to do as we like
    and pleasure which hardens the heart
    We have chosen riches and entertainment
    We have chosen to walk the way of the lost
    but say we have found salvation

    Is God waiting for us to come clean?
    Is He serious about Psalm 51
    and that repentance is the key?
    What does He want from us
    so that we may receive HIs help again?

    Let’s give it a try:
    Pray Psalm 51 daily for 51 days
    and we will see
    that the abusers will be reported
    the thieves plundered and all that they have stolen
    returned to the innocent
    the poor will be provided for and built up
    the hungry will eat and be filled
    the wise will return to Scripture
    and see that there are indeed, conditions
    for the Blessings from on High
    (Read Deuteronomy)
    The rats, well . . . the rats will surely die

    But wait, why is our performance necessary for God to act?
    Is His Love conditional / controlled by our responses?

    “And unto you, a Child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
    Isaiah 9:6

    Salvation comes as a Gift
    A very expensive Gift
    for all who will receive

    But the blessings of God
    are for those obedient to His Word,
    who follow His Ways.
    who love Him with abandon

    Start a New Day
    Call in the counselors, priests, neighbors,
    friends, teachers, pastors, parents, sons, daughters,
    but none will counsel you perfectly
    or give you the Peace you crave

    They are finite, mortal, with limits
    and you seek them out to cure, to heal,
    to bind up, to cast out, to deliver,
    to strengthen, to give peace . . .
    and they are but finite, mortal, with limits.

    A New Day starts
    as your repentance is real, alive
    penetrating, establishing a foundation
    of Life and Purity, Righteousness
    and New Indelible Hope

    Psalm 51
    and may the God of the Heavens
    Breathe on you His Life
    in such measure
    that you are fully His
    fully born of HIs Spirit
    Complete, Whole, Sanctified
    Risen
    Alive
    Strengthened
    Empowered
    Full of His Life Giving Spirit
    Obedient to His Words
    Baptized in His Love
    Covered and Sealed and Protected
    by His Blood

    “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'”
    Jeremiah 6:16

    July 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm Reply
  • Bethany Rose

    Thank you so much for voicing this. I don’t know how these Christians justify the words of their songs with the obvious call in the Bible to endure suffering as Jesus did. Songs like that have always bothered me. Sometimes there just is pain and suffering in this world that God doesn’t take away. I chose to believe that He will heal us, but not always right away. Sometimes it will be long years or even a lifetime of suffering until we are healed in Heaven.
    But thank you for speaking about it in a way that was still dignified and Christ-like. You disagreed with the themes without beating down the people. It is rare in our world to be able to respectfully disagree, unfortunately.

    July 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Exactly Bethany! Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely didn’t want to shame the brothers and sisters in Christ who are writing these songs but someone needs to speak out about the inaccurate picture these songs are painting.

      July 6, 2017 at 2:50 pm Reply
  • Ceylan Gunduz

    I SO agree, Ana! Thank you for writing this post! As someone who feels God speaking to me most through music, I became as disturbed as you by many of the Christian songs I was hearing when my family began our own 8-year (and counting) journey of suffering, sickness, and mold avoidance. I too had to grapple with the “truths” that I had always been told by people trying to comfort us, who had never really known deep suffering, and reconcile them with the gritty truth of God’s Word. An artist that I discovered and whose songs have really spoken to me these past few years is Andrew Peterson. He is one of the *very* few songwriters who writes honestly and realistically about raw emotions and the struggle of trying to make sense of deep pain in life in light of a good God. Plus, he has a beautiful style of music. Some of my favorites are: “The Silence of God,” “The Rain Keeps Falling,” “After the Last Tear Falls,” and “The Dark Before the Dawn.”

    Our family follows your blog faithfully and we are praying for you and Brett. Thank you so much for sharing your journey–it has encouraged us on ours!<3

    July 5, 2017 at 10:24 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and story Ceylan! And thank you also for the music suggestions, I’m going to listen! I had an Andrew Peterson CD I really liked, a long time ago but haven’t heard the songs you mentioned. Thank you so much for praying for us!

      July 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm Reply
  • Sara Tamames

    Hi Ana!

    Very interesting to hear your thoughts on this theme. I’m not a Christian. However, I do believe in God and I have deep faith in Him.

    Maybe you don’t know much of my story, but I have been through similar darkness and suffering as you. Maybe even more, because unlike you, I did not have a loving family who would support me.

    When I read your post I felt moved to say to you: I can honestly say, today: “It was all worth it”.

    Even though I am still struggling every day and I honestly don’t know if I will find a way to survive in this physical world.

    It is all worth it, because my suffering has been like an alchemy to my soul. It has transformed me into the person I always wanted to be, but did not know how to be. I am truly happy now, because I have a level of integrity, inner solidity and strength I never thought was possible.

    If I could choose, I would do it all again, because I know I would never be who I am today if I had not gone through all that. And I love who I am today.

    Through the fire and the darkness, I have come to connect deeply to God and feel part of the infinity of His creation.

    So yes, it is naive to think that God will just fix everything for us, if we have enough faith. That is not going to happen.

    But if we have enough faith, we can see beyond the pain of this world into the eternal truth of God, and we can accept our pain and our sorrow and our losses and still be truly happy, truly blessed, made whole in the deep experience of what it means to be a human being on Earth.

    I hope some day you will come to feel this way. That the wounds from your suffering will heal and you will find “It was all worth it”, not just in Heaven, but right here on this Earth too.

    Sending you love <3

    July 6, 2017 at 1:40 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Sara! I’m so sorry your comment got caught in spam. I have no idea why.

      I do agree with you that suffering shapes us into deeper and better people and I’m so glad you are able to say that it was worth it even here on this earth. I do hope I’ll get there someday too but even if I don’t, I have eternal hope. But I do agree that there is beauty the comes from pain that we can see here and now. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! I pray you continue to heal and can be reunited with your sweet daughter.

      July 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm Reply
  • Mary Ellen

    Thank you for your honesty and this important reminder. The hope of heaven has also sustained me in painful times.

    July 6, 2017 at 2:58 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      🙂

      July 6, 2017 at 3:01 pm Reply
  • Janice

    And Christians should really stop quoting Jeremiah 29:11 like it applies to everyone in every situation. Clearly, it doesn’t. Christians are harmed every day and many do not prosper but live in poverty. Thank you for your true words.

    July 6, 2017 at 3:49 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I agree that that’s not a helpful verse to quote to those who are suffering greatly.

      July 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm Reply
    • Kate

      We do also often quote that verse in Jeremiah out of context. Jerusalem was destroyed and only a remnent of people survived who went into exile in the land of their enemies. I have never had any great suffering, the people that verse was first spoken to probably were, God did not save them out of it either. Not then at least.

      July 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm Reply
  • Josephine

    We all have a story. Zack William’s interviews talk of addiction and some possible self-inflicted pains that come from being on the run from God. Chemical addiction is a form of suffering that isn’t part of my story. I’ve heard others say that through faith they were set free from cravings and dependence. That’s amazing to me. My journey involves avoidance of water damaged buildings and chemicals that make be sick. I have suffered a long time, but not as long as others. It’s not the same as your story. My story isn’t Zack’s journey, but I can appreciate his story of faith. God is unfathomable to me for so many reasons. His ways are not my ways. It is hard living in an RV. I too miss my old life, and maybe my chains are my preconceived notions of what my life “should” look like. Maybe the days that I feel like I will “be this way forever” are part of my chains? I find common ground with Zack in that my faith helps me realize that freedom comes from trusting that all is as it needs to be today. With time, chemical avoidance and more healing, I pray that all ME/CIRS/CFS people find freedom from suffering. Maybe then it will be easier for me and others to sing about Jesus being a chain breaker? Dispair and suffering go hand in hand for so many, but maybe today I can trade dispair for hope while I suffer? For now that’s enough… I have hope for better days because I have faith. You inspire me, and I love your honesty! God bless you and keep you, Ana!

    July 6, 2017 at 3:54 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Josephine! I was not aware of the song writer’s story and it definitely wasn’t my intention to put him down. I do believe God sets us free from bondage to sin in this life but that doesn’t necessarily come with a “taking-away” of pain. The Lord set me free from self-injury and anorexia when I was a teenager but he didn’t give me a trouble free life from then. So no, I’m not taking issue with the “chain-breaker” part the problem I have is when we lump suffering and sin together. Jesus frees us from habitual sin but he does not promise to free us from suffering in this life. So, that’s what I was trying to get at. I certainly wasn’t trying to attack the brother who wrote this song. I just think we need to be more careful with how we talk about pain. God doesn’t always take it away in this life.

      July 6, 2017 at 3:08 pm Reply
  • Ana Ducasa

    Very well written! The quote at the end is excellent! Thank you for sharing.

    July 6, 2017 at 5:50 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Ana!

      July 6, 2017 at 3:08 pm Reply
  • Martín Fernandez

    No worship will be perfect, some will fit some situations, and some won’t. I think you are right, the only thing that matters, the only one that can fully heal us, is Christ, He can do it in this present life, and He will complete it in our new life. to the Cristian readers I say, use your brain, and spirit to understand and discern.
    And to those who came to this blog, and to many others seeking for a solution to your disease, or a way out, I truly encourage you to seek God He’s our deliverer, our healer, our provider, and as Ana said, that goes beyond and abusing language, beyond and even farther than that, He goes so deep and so wide that our minds can’t understand. Thanks, Ana, cause your words encouraged me to Praise our powerful and merciful God, and helped me to understand a little bit more of Him.

    Ephesians 3:18-19 King James Version (KJV)
    18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
    19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

    July 6, 2017 at 7:43 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you Martin! I agree with you!

      July 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm Reply
  • Angie Tolpin

    Ana,
    You don’t know me and I don’t know you, but my heart goes out to you as you live through suffering in this life. We recently suffered a miscarriage in our second trimester, to which we not only lost our baby, but I almost lost my life. During the 9 hours of hemorrhaging, we prayed, wailed, read Scripture, and listened to worship music to keep our eyes on Jesus and the truth about him, so as not to become consumed with the grief. For me, it was helpful in my healing. However, we found years ago what you expressed in this post and have been vigilant to be careful to listen/meditate on music that has biblical truth– which is slim pickings for sure… God is the Deliverer. It’s Part of His character, which will never change. But, as I write in my book Redeeming Childbirth concerning Morning Sickness, He delivers some people FROM the suffering through healing and eternal life, THROUGH, and IN the suffering as HE walks with us intimately while remaining in the valley. There are those whose speak of healing as if God is a genie in the bottle. I too have been hurt deeply by the “spiritual abuse” I have experienced while in the midst of trying to grieve loss biblically clinging to truth. I came to the conclusion that I need to have compassion and grace for them though bc they are biblically ignorant. I am praying for you this morning Ana. And I want to share with you a song playlist I created, also in PDF form and on my blog at http://CourageousMom.com/will-worship-weeping/

    praying for you my Sister in Christ.

    July 6, 2017 at 8:45 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching story sister! I’m so glad you were able to cling to the hope of Jesus! Thank you for sharing your playlist. I started listening to some of it this morning.

      July 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm Reply
  • Chris

    Ana, this post is so right on. I think in our American culture we just want quick fixes. And we want this, because never before in history have we actually had in our power the ability to make things better for ourselves with the resources at hand. Never before have we had this much technology, or health care, or access to good food and water etc etc etc. But these things are NOT a guarantee. They do not insure that we we’ll have this perfect life with no problems etc. Actually, they make us less dependent on God and more dependent on man. Therefore when something goes wrong we blame ourselves and everyone tells us to do this and that and all will be well. This is not good. Being dependent on the Lord daily means that He will help us when things come into our lives that can’t be solved by human means. And your right, there is no promise of total healing and a problem free life this side of heaven. If there was, we’d have no need to look forward to eternity. And you’re also right in that suffering on this earth, no matter how much good comes out of it, does not make the suffering justified. Gerald Sittser (who lost 3 generations of his family in a single accident-his mom, wife and daughter) says in his book, “A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss”, that “All the good in the world that’s come out of it can never make the accident itself good.” And I think God would agree with this. I also feel the same way about those songs you mentioned. They are the “feel good” message that we all want to hear (and that sells songs) and that people gravitate towards, but its not reality. When I think of the suffering from WWII and the suffering and persecuted people in North Korea and throughout the world currently, it cannot be alleviated by the trite words of these songs. What the song writers should be writing is that Jesus will walk with you through the pain and never leave you (even though it might feel like it) and that someday it will be over when you see Him face to face in eternity. And that there aren’t answers to everything here on earth. Not that if you just grab hold now, (implying you’re doing something wrong) then all things will be ok. Thank you for being brave enough to tell the truth how it is. Real, Transparent, And yet, life changing.

    July 6, 2017 at 9:26 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen sister! I agree! 💕

      July 6, 2017 at 4:57 pm Reply
  • Katherine Forster

    Wonderfully put, Ana.

    July 6, 2017 at 11:19 am Reply
    • Katherine Forster

      Also, out of curiosity, what songs do you like to listen to?

      July 6, 2017 at 11:21 am Reply
      • Ana Harris

        Thanks Katherine! There’s a lot of music I like, for worship, I like the hymns, I like Shannon Wexelberg and a lot of the Hillsong worship songs (though not all). Some of my favorite worship songs, “Lead Me to the Cross”, “May I Never Lose the Wonder” “Faithful God”. I love “Bless the Lord” by Rita Springer…

        For non-worship music my favorite artists are Brooke Fraser (though her new CD sounds very different than what I like), Jon Foreman ( his EPs more than Switchfoot) and Josh Garrells.

        July 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm Reply
  • Hope

    A really good album for those in suffering is Ellie Holcomb’s “Red Sea Road”. Lots of rich truth in her songs.

    July 6, 2017 at 11:44 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’m excited to look into it.

      July 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply
  • Sarah C

    This rings so true for me…sometimes God doesn’t choose to remove suffering in this life. I did recently hear a song that didn’t make such empty promises…I think you would like it. “Even If” by Mercy Me.
    “I know you’re able
    And I know you can
    save through the fire
    with your mighty hand
    But even if you don’t
    my hope’s still you alone”

    I think you would enjoy listening to it.

    July 6, 2017 at 11:57 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen! That sounds like a really good song.

      July 6, 2017 at 5:04 pm Reply
  • Audrey

    I might be a crazy Christian, but I love Chainbreaker and I Am Free. 🙂

    July 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… This made me smile! You’re not crazy! 🙂

      July 6, 2017 at 5:05 pm Reply
  • KerryAnn

    Hmmm…. I’m on the other side of this, having passed the eleventh anniversary this week. I am now outside of the daily suffering, having finally left that in the last six months and things are generally going up although we do still deal with set backs and the usual two steps forward, one step back that chronic illness sufferers know all too well. I would say that now being on the other side, I would say very much that there are some things that the severe suffering I went through was worth it for- being able to watch my kids grow up would be one, but there are others. Being able to minister to others to help them heal quicker than what I did has also been a balm to me. And I developed some deep faith and maturity that I didn’t have before I became ill. I have come to realize that true joy is a choice, and it is something I can choose every day.

    July 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for sharing your story Kerry! I do agree that God often allows us to see glimpses of what he has done through our suffering even here on earth and that is very healing and faith-inspiring. But even if he doesn’t do that for us in this life, he will in heaven. I’ve seen so much good come from my suffering but I could never say that I would do it over. My perspective here on earth is too limited and I can’t see everything that God is doing.

      July 6, 2017 at 5:07 pm Reply
  • Charis | charisrae.com

    This is beautiful and very true, Ana. Thank you for sharing. <3

    July 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks Charis!

      July 6, 2017 at 5:08 pm Reply
  • Katherine

    Phil Wickham has some beautiful songs about looking towards the joy of Heaven. “Eden” and “Heaven Song” are two of my favorites. He paints such beautiful pictures through his music.

    July 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Ahh! Yes! I forgot about Phil Wickam! He does have some great songs!

      July 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm Reply
      • Katherine

        I also wanted to say that at Ballet Magnificat’s workshop this past week (I am there as an assistant counselor) Cortne read an excerpt from this Blog during chapel and it was so touching. I know I’ve never met you personally but we are all praying for you- Both at Ballet Mag and at Grace Baptist- you are still on our prayer list. 🙂

        July 9, 2017 at 7:45 pm Reply
        • Ana Harris

          Aww! This is so encouraging! I miss my Ballet Mag family so much. It made my day to know that I was able to be there in a small way and contribute to the workshop. Thanks for telling me! Maybe someday I’ll be able to go back as a counselor.

          July 10, 2017 at 2:01 pm Reply
  • Evie Poythress

    *tears* So so true. I find far more comfort and peace in memorized scripture (I regularly am unable to read due to dibilitating migraines) than I do in modern worship music. Thank you for your courage in writing this. I am regularly praying for you and Brett (please let him know that!!)

    July 6, 2017 at 7:08 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Evie! I also could not read for a long long time. Thank you ever so much for the prayers! I will tell Brett.

      July 6, 2017 at 8:33 pm Reply
  • Sarah Beth M.

    Thank you so much for sharing this <3 You wrote it very graciously, yet truthfully. I appreciate this. Please keep writing! <3
    Have you listened to music by Shane & Shane? "Though You Slay Me" is a song they wrote based on some verses in the book of Job, and it has really helped me through difficult times. I just recently started listening to their Psalms II album (free on Amazon Prime:)) and I really like it. Some of those songs, liek the one based on Psalm 139, is not word for word (and therefore not nearly the same as reading the ACTUAL psalm) but it is still has so much truth in it and I love it when I want to listen to music. I'd love to know what you think of their songs (either yay or nay).

    July 6, 2017 at 8:05 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thank you for the encouraging words Sara! I’ve heard some of Shane and Shane and like it. I’ll have to look up the Psalms album that sounds really good.

      July 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm Reply
  • Sharon

    Thank you. There are many wonderful old hymns that encourage us with excellent doctrine and genuine promises from God. They encourage through suffering and don’t make false promises. Instead they draw us closer to Jesus and join us with
    the “great cloud of witnesses” that have gone before us.

    July 6, 2017 at 9:04 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I definitely agree with you that the old hymns got it right!

      July 6, 2017 at 9:30 pm Reply
  • Deb Peabody

    As a fellow chronic illness sufferer it is so important we listen to theologically sound teaching and music.
    My favorites are Valley of Vision by Sovereign Grace Music. The song “In the Valley” on it has so ministered to my soul.
    Blessings by Laura Story
    Also read a great book dealing with a biblical view on chronic illness called “Always Sick, Always Loved” by Michael & Margaret Robble. I know this couple personally and have been blessed by their testimony.
    Great is Thy Faithfulness is another favorite as well as It is Well in the hymn category.
    Music that recognizes God’s sovereignty, goodness, faithfulness and wisdom in the midst of life’s Up and downs is what most mo istera to my heart.
    Blessings and prayers to continued recovery.
    Deb

    July 7, 2017 at 7:42 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I so agree! Thank you so much for sharing your recommendations! I’m going to listen to the song now. Thanks for the prayers! 💕

      July 7, 2017 at 8:38 am Reply
  • Maria-Simona Collazo

    Wow, I’ve listened to “Chain Breaker” and “Trading My Sorrows” a million times (we even have fun dance moves which go along with the lyrics that we use in church, and it’s a blast!), but I never realized that the messages basically said “we can just decide to trade our suffering away”. You’re right, Ana. The theology is that message is completely wrong. Thank you for opening my eyes to this! I thought I just needed to evaluate secular music, but it turns out, Christian music should be evaluated as well. I’m going to look into this some more.

    By the way, your blog and Brett’s blog (I’m a teenager, so I also view therebelution.com a lot) are much-need lights in my life. Thank you for that, and I’m certainly praying for both of you! 🙂

    July 7, 2017 at 10:59 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for sharing Maria! I loved reading this comment! It’s definitely a fun song but it doesn’t reflect the reality of life in this world. I’m so glad you’re enjoying this blog and the rebelution.com. That’s so good to hear! 🙂

      July 9, 2017 at 10:31 am Reply
      • Maria-Simona Collazo

        Awww, you are so kind!

        About a year or so ago, my Theatre teacher preached a sermon in our school Chapel service on suffering (physical, emotional, and spiritual). She loves music, and a song she recommended that has helped her through many difficult times was an old-school Gospel song called “Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain”.
        The chorus sings:
        “Now Lord, don’t move my mountain
        But give me the strength to climb.
        And Lord, don’t take away my stumbling blocks
        But lead me all around…”

        I admire how it doesn’t beg, “Lord Jesus, PLEASE, take this away from me NOW!!!” as many Christians pray (but I don’t really blame them, although I disagree with the way they’re requesting relief), and how it doesn’t falsely promise, “Just believe hard enough! If you just believe in God more, all your pain and suffering will soon vanish!” It sings a simple, powerful prayer: “Lord, I don’t want to go through this suffering. If it is Your will, please take this away from me. But if not, then I know You’re letting me endure this for reason that no one but You knows. Jesus, just give me the strength to make it through another day and to grow through this”. Very similar to what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and also similar to the message you share on this beautiful blog, Ana!
        I highly recommend the song to you! If you want to give it a listen:

        “Lord, Don’t Move the Mountain” by Mahalia Jackson. ((this is the original version my Theatre teacher played for us. It has a slightly mournful tone to it, but still a beautiful demonstration of classic gospel))

        “Lord, Don’t Move That Mountain” by Inez Andrews. ((this is a cover version, I believe, and it reflects the more upbeat, powerful gospel you’d hear in an Alabama church service)

        “Lord, Don’t Move The Mountain” by The Hoppers ((this has longer, more complex lyrics than the other two versions. Also, it has a country/Southern gospel vibe and style to it))

        Whichever musical style you prefer! 🙂

        July 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm Reply
  • David

    Interesting blog, and interesting comments.

    I am in total agreement. There was a song a few years ago that gave the message of “Just believe hard enough” and it upset me so much that I wrote to the radio station playing it an tried to explain that I found it rather offensive. It actually was counter to Biblical theology. And they apparently didn’t see it my way, whatever, I just stopped listening to their station. Isn’t that a great thing? In this country full of blessings we have options. You can believe in God and be a Catholic, 5 kinds of Lutheran, 3 kinds of Baptist, 8 kinds of all kinds of other kinds. I can believe in God and be a Liberal, or an Ultra-Conservative. (Some will disagree with that, but I KNOW that Jesus loves me, I learnt that in Sunday School, the Bible tells me so)

    The internet has blown open the way we can choose our preferred music. I don’t listen to much secular anymore, I find it rather meaningless. Hearing the same song 30 some years after it was a hit (think Classic Rock) is incredibly painful to me and really boring. While I don’t think it is perfect I do like the mix of songs I get from Pandora. The trick is to shuffle enough artists.

    Favorites:
    Neighborhoods – Big Daddy Weave, some of the older Christian Rock – Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Newsboys, Toby Mac. Some of the newer Christian Rap, Rapture Ruckus, John Rueben, KJ52 Southern Rock like nobody else – Family Force 5 (You usually have to look to find the theology, Drama Queen was not about a girl, but about a Christian Church Administrator) and some County/Bluegrass – Ben Caplan, Harbor and Home, Judah and the Lion

    Anyway, I really enjoyed your blog, and my hope and prayer for you is that you suffer less, and we get to meet and chat in Heaven. Maybe even chat a few times here.

    July 8, 2017 at 4:53 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts David! That’s too bad the radio station didn’t respond. Yes! Let’s chat in heaven. 🙂

      July 9, 2017 at 10:33 am Reply
  • Ruth Meyer

    As a song-writer, I couldn’t agree with you more, Ana! So many new “Christian” songs completely bypass the truth of Scripture, to make everyone “feel better” without actually teaching them the doctrine Christ came to fulfill in our lives. I was just thinking the other day about a song I wrote. It has this line in the chorus: “I love the good days; I love the bad days; I love each moment spent with You.” I always explain to people, the lyrics may sounds simple, even trite, but they aren’t to me. The “bad days” were very not okay days, days when I questioned my value, days when I couldn’t be there for suffering friends, days when I had no comforting answers, days when I prayed and prayed (believing) and still felt scared stiff for no reason. Why do I say I love those “bad days”? I don’t love all the “stuff” I went through, but I do love my Savior Who went through it with me, and I value every moment I drew closer to Him. Sin is NOT okay, and suffering is NOT okay either, and way too many songs make it sound like it should be (like it will vanish if we “believe” enough). I have been scared to death, but fully assured God was with me, at the same time. It’s not a contradiction, or a lack of faith. It’s living in a broken world, waiting for Heaven. Sometimes my body feels one way, my heart feels another, and my mind says a third thing. My faith helps me continue on in those moments, but it doesn’t take the sting of even a papercut away, or instantly heal an emotional wound. Some things just take time here on earth. Heaven is going to be truly awesome, Ana! I’ve often wondered about God wiping away all our tears (Rev. 21:4), since I can’t imagine tears even making it up that far, but it makes sense when you realize how much fear, and tears, and sadness, and the consequences of sin we all live with our entire lives. Yes, being a born-again Christian is wonderful! But, the world is still broken. Heaven is not. Heaven is perfect, and the tree of life has leaves for the healing of all nations for a reason (Rev. 22:2), because every nation, every people, everyone, everywhere is hurting. Heaven will heal what earth cannot. That’s the hope I have in Jesus, and I’m glad you have that hope in you also, Ana.

    July 8, 2017 at 6:14 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen sister! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      July 9, 2017 at 10:29 am Reply
  • Cheryl

    Beautiful; perfectly said!

    July 8, 2017 at 11:21 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Thanks so much Cheryl!

      July 9, 2017 at 10:28 am Reply
  • Heather

    I am just reading this and am grateful. Thank-you. I’ve heard ‘Well, Jesus is the Great Physician’, and that’s true but it does not mean we wont face trials and suffering. I’ve got several chronic illnesses and this helps so much more.

    July 9, 2017 at 5:34 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Exactly Heather! I’m so glad this was helpful.

      July 9, 2017 at 10:28 am Reply
  • Gail Williamson

    Thank you Ana. My son and I suffer with ME/CFS/CIRS and there are days I just need to hear music that says Christ is with us, not the happy-clappy tunes that are so prevalent. I don’t know what our earthly suffering will produce, but I believe in the very end we will know and everything will fit together like a giant tapestry. With one thread that leads to another, to another and the tapestry will be glorious and with that, we will understand.

    Not a Christian song, but one that may touch people is from the Gilmore Girls. It’s call Unbreakable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ib-wdf81Rw

    July 9, 2017 at 8:46 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Amen! I’m with you on that sister! 💕

      July 10, 2017 at 1:54 pm Reply
  • Hailey

    Anna, this is so good. I came to this same realization last summer when I was coming to terms with the fact that I have a chronic illness–yes, I am promised healing, but it may not happen until I reach heaven. I just can’t wait for that day!

    July 10, 2017 at 7:49 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Yes, chronic illness kind of forces you to come to terms with that, doesn’t it? I’m so glad we are promised ultimate healing!

      July 10, 2017 at 1:57 pm Reply
  • Lisamarie

    What a blessing for me to find this blog! I used to blog but never got many comments so I got discouraged. I felt like I was pouring out my soul to an empty pit. I just posted a letter to my family and close friends about my physical condition and pain. Please let me know what you think. http://job6-3.blogspot.com/?zx=6e93afc8e26fdbe2
    I will be lifting you up in prayer. I also have a song list I use when I am down on a different post. I will be following you. Lisamarie

    July 11, 2017 at 5:50 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… I’m so sorry Lisamarie! That’s so heartbreaking to feel like you’re pouring out your soul and no one cares. I tried to access your blog but it said I didn’t have permission. Is it set up to be a private blog?

      July 12, 2017 at 8:23 am Reply
  • Katie Andrews

    YES, ANA. SO MUCH YES. I’ve maintained this for so long, but thought I was alone. I’ve never heard anyone brave enough to come out and actually say all this and that no, the emperor does NOT indeed have clothes. THANK YOU.
    Also, have you heard O My Soul by Casting Crowns? I’ve never experienced anything as extreme as what you go through (you are so so strong, girl!! ❤️), but it’s really helped me with my severe anxiety/depression issues; when I’m having a bad moment it can help me pull through in the subtle ways that music can. My favorite lines are “I won’t try to promise that someday this all works out, ’cause this is the valley, and even now He is breathing on your dry bones, and there will be dancing, there will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone…” 😉❤️
    Praying for you, sista!
    Katie

    July 11, 2017 at 11:39 pm Reply
    • Ana Harris

      I’m so glad to hear it resonated with you Katie! Thank you for the song recommendation. 😊

      July 12, 2017 at 8:24 am Reply
  • Tamam Baida

    Ana, you ministered to me in a BIG way today….thank you.

    July 12, 2017 at 5:05 am Reply
    • Ana Harris

      Aww… So encouraged to hear that sweet Tamam.

      July 12, 2017 at 8:24 am Reply
  • Jen

    I’m catching up on your posts and just saw this. Thank you for expressing what I think a lot of Christians who are really suffering feel. And for holding fast to what God actually says. I’ve encountered bad theology about healing and relief from suffering in the church too. Joni Eareckson Tada’s writings have helped me on this a lot. A few songs I’ve been listening to lately: “Even When It Hurts” by Hillsong United, “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle and Casting Crowns’ “For All You Are” and “Praise You In This Storm.” I agree we need more good music that is biblically solid and resonates with sufferers.

    July 12, 2017 at 10:07 am Reply
  • Lisa Dedinsky

    Hi Ana,
    I have been following you and Brett since the online class he gave with his dad. I am in awe of your faith and how you accept God’s grace to strengthen both of you and your marriage. I am Catholic and one thing that I love about our faith is the value of suffering. When Jesus suffered and died for us, he opened us to God’s kingdom -allowing us to take up our cross and follow him. We also believe he allows us to suffer on behalf of others -giving ourselves when we bear suffering and asking God to bless them or ease their suffering or as reparation for their or our offenses to God. We offer for those we love , those we do not know (I have offered days or events of my chronic illness for you and Brett), and for those who are lost (for their conversion ). He does not need for us to do this to give graces, healings and conversions but He allows us to participate in Calvary at a deep level out of love for Him and for each other. What parent is not moved by one of their children wanting to take on the burden or suffering of another? He does it because He is loving and merciful. When I an give my suffering to another or to God (in reparation), I am further purified. God has created each of us to be holy and this is another way to take a step on that path. He is so good to us and wants us to succeed for our own benefit that he makes good from the hardships in this broken world. I agree with you, God isn’t going to take away pain – sometimes He does – but he is there to bear it with us. I know for myself and for many others, it is when I am suffering that I feel His presence the most – I just have to be able to lift my head enough (sometimes only with His grace) to notice He is right there. I know that you have lived much of this and I am not “telling” you anything new. I just wanted you to know how I fit the pieces together as much as I can. I tell my kids all the time, (assuming I make it to heaven) I want to spend eternity studying the tapestry that is the threads of our lives woven by God. I can’t wait until I can see the tapestry from the front – I can see some of the beauty from the back but I know the front is beyond my wildest dreams! Hang in there!

    July 14, 2017 at 11:11 am Reply
  • Jenny

    I’m so grateful for the words you have penned here! This post resonates so very deeply with me. I see so many people trying to come up with a list of good things coming from the current suffering, as if that list will make it “worth it”. I’ve thought something was wrong with me because my list was never enough to overcome my pain. I’m not able to say “it’s worth it”. And the guilt from that perceived lack in me has been crippling. I can say with all confidence, all will be made right in Heaven. And that God made a way to carry me through until then. That’s my hope that I cling to. Thank you for writing Ana!

    August 2, 2017 at 7:58 am Reply
  • Susan Houser

    Thanks Ana! I sometimes think our Christian culture creates a vulnerability for shipwreck by not addressing suffering properly. It can make people think something is wrong and turn away when they can’t grasp the quick rebound everyone is offering. We’re afraid to linger, to grieve, to lament in the raw reality of it all. To find ourselves stuck there for awhile. In our fast-paced culture, we forget that even Job’s misguided friends simply sat and mourned with him for days before even speaking.

    September 13, 2017 at 3:58 pm Reply
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