At our son’s memorial service, Psalm 44 put bold words to our agony as we lamented his loss with family and friends. It was a rare moment of corporate worship as hundreds of voices cried out together: “Awake! Why are you sleeping LORD? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!”
The psalmist’s sorrow gave language to our grief. It allowed us to question why the Lord seemed indifferent to our pain and wail at what felt like divine apathy for our child’s death.
Psalm 44 declares things that you might be surprised to hear on a Sunday morning. It serves as a platform for the Godward complaints of hurting souls.
There are times when God appears so unmoved by our suffering that he must be “asleep”. We beg him to do something. “Wake up! Rouse yourself!” But he doesn’t seem to care. His faithfulness in the past seems painfully distant from his present inactivity. When we need him most, we wonder if he has forgotten us altogether.
Scriptures like this release us from the pressure to hide our doubts or tie them up neatly. But this passage goes a step further. The Psalms are not poems or journal entries, they’re songs. This is a melody of misery, composed to be sung by God’s people. Cries of uncertainty became congregational worship.
As one who is grieving, sorrowful choruses are a comfort in my affliction. The abundance of major keys and cheerful lyrics can feel like an assault of “windy words” (Job 16:3). Of course, my soul needs to be reminded of the Lord’s promises. But it also needs the God-ordained practice of lament.
In a culture of triumph and celebration, our churches would do well to sing more songs like Psalm 44. Not just at funerals, but on Sundays.
Those who are hurting can find relief through worship that gives space for honest wrestling and unanswered questions.
Those who are doing well can prepare for the trials they will face and remember the aches of those around them.
And those listening would hear a similar sound to what was heard thousands of years ago in Jerusalem. “The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of people’s weeping.” They would hear worship.