Actual vs Aspirational

HymnalI recently read a devotional article where the author expressed his reluctance to sing certain hymns and songs which express thoughts which are not true for him. He cited the hymn, “Jesus I am Resting” as one that prompts such hesitation.

Reflection on this made me see a distinction between singing about what is actually true in the moment and what I aspire to be true. The distinction is between what is actual and what is aspirational (my spell checker does not recognize this as a word but we will run with it).

Who among us lives up to what we want to be true of us? Who among us is qualified to sing the great Christian songs that speak of victory and complete surrender?

Should we hold back from singing “How Great Thou Art” because we are wrestling with God over a lingering illness?  Should we banish “It is Well With My Soul” because we are often troubled and distracted even while we sing it? Can we sing “He Keeps Me Singing” when we’re not feeling particularly joyous? We all fall short of the ideal that is portrayed in these songs..

I do see value in singing such songs to remind us that there is a God great enough to handle our doubts and fears. There is value in acknowledging that even while I am in emotional disarray, there is a God who can bring wellness to a troubled soul. There is value in singing a song that reminds me that joy is not dependent upon my circumstances and current emotional state.

It is not as if we are trying to fool God into thinking better of us than we deserve. He already knows our failures and knows our doubts and knows our struggles.

So while what we are singing may not describe what is actually true of us in the moment, it can be an accurate description of our desire. Our voice can express what is aspirational even though it may not be wholly or even partially true in the moment.

So, sing on. Sing loudly. Make a joyful noise (Tweet This).