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How Great Thou Art

On Saturday I was introduced to The Piano Guys’ mashup The Mission/How Great Thou Art featuring two of the Seven Wonders of the World: the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and the Iguana Falls in Argentina.  It’s a stunning music video not only because of the amazing videography of the 30-metre statue of Jesus overlooking a 700-meter cliff as well as the 2.7 km stretch of 275 waterfalls, but also because of the message it emotes through sound and sight.

As the harmony of the cello and piano soar through the awesome space, one cannot help but feel and think: this is worship – to lift up one’s soul to the Creator and confess, “How great thou art” – because He created such beauty in nature, and because He created us to enjoy such beauty and to respond through music and other forms of expressions that we call praise.

But true worship is inspired by more than beauty or blessings. 

Praise does not come merely from hearts full of gratitude; praise can flow from hearts full of pain and anguish.

Job was a man who lost everything in one day – all his wealth and the lives of all his children.  After hearing the terrible news, the Bible records:

“Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship  and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22 NIV).

Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned for preaching about Jesus; but the Bible says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25 ESV).

Jesus was crucified; yet He quoted Psalm 22, which starts with “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” but ends in “It is finished” and is full of refrains like, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (Psalm 22:22 ESV).

Praise can come from pain when we cling to God in our suffering and acknowledge that we don’t know the end from the beginning and that we still believe in God’s goodness and mercy, despite the feelings and circumstances before our eyes.

As I re-watched the music video of the Piano Guys performing “How Great Thou Art,” a comment caught my eye that led me to discover that the pianist’s 21-year-old daughter had tragically died in a hiking accident in 2016.  But Jon Schmidt, the pianist, continues to perform – no, praise: “I’m still grateful… we need to remember all the of the wonders, all the times that God did answer our prayers in the way we wanted to” (from “Frankly Faraci”).

It was an inspiring reminder that while we may be sick, broke, lonely, and hurt, we can still sing:

“And when I think of God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing He bled and died to take way my sin.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to thee – how great thou art… how great thou art
Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to thee – how great thou art… how great thou art!

Jesus is always the reason we can still praise – even in our pain.  For “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Jinha Kim pastors a church plant in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Roy. They also have two lively little boys, which keep her very busy!


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