Part 7: Lament. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Six, Lam. 3:22 & 23

 Chorus:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning.

Great is thy faithfulness.

 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

To the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly.

For the salvation of the Lord.

 Let us test and examine our ways,

And return to the Lord.

For the Lord, He is our mighty fortress.

Let us always praise His name.

You can listen to Lam. 3:22-23 by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

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Doug and the author singing at our sister’s wedding.

 This song is based on words from Lamentation 3:22-23:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

One begins to read these verses a little differently when serious health issues stop us in our tracks; particularly when healing is not guaranteed, and death is a very real possibility.

One can feel consumed – consumed with fear, anxiety, anger, depression, helplessness, hopelessness.  Because, let’s face it, even though as Christians we read in scripture that we have the hope of eternal life after death, that Jesus went to “prepare a place for us” in heaven, that when this earthly tent wears out we have a “heavenly” one, we don’t really focus on that much in our lives.  In fact, we don’t really think we will die, particularly when we are in our early 30’s and life is busy with raising small children, working and serving the Lord.

Life-threatening illness tests our faith – do we really believe this stuff?  If so, how do we live in this new reality we are facing?  Time and time again we are told in scripture to look to the Lord, seek His face, take our eyes off of the things of this earth and on to Christ.  Does he not care for us?  Is he not filled with compassion for us?  Does he not know we are weak and helpless?

A lament is a prayer of complaint – letting God know what is going on and how we feel about it.  We see many in the Psalms and of course in the book of Lamentations. In fact this passage from Lamentations chapter 3 comes after several chapters of lamenting the difficult and painful conditions of life the Israelites were enduring in captivity. I learned during Doug’s illness that God is not afraid of our questions or our overwhelming emotions.  He invites us to bring them to Him.

There are several movements in prayers of lament:

  • An honest description of the problem.
  • A request for God to act on our behalf and remedy the problem.
  • Confession of Trust. Remembering what God has done in the past and confessing trust in God for the present.
  • Vow of Praise. Praising God in anticipation of God’s new redemption action in the future.

Theological Reflection is at the heart of Lament.  When we experience loss and hard times, it can feel like God is absent. We no longer feel at home with God as our normal life experience has changed. We feel that we are “cast into a foreign land.”  We become consumed by our emotions and wonder if God is really who we thought He was.

These verses in Lamentations that Doug chose to focus on in this song are a good representation of the last movement in the prayer of lament; the Vow of Praise.  I am wondering if at this point, Doug had worked through the other movements of lament, and landed at praise.

Reflection

 Are you facing the biggest test of faith you’ve ever faced?  Are you concerned for someone else? Consider writing your own prayer of lament.  Don’t give up on God.  Seek His face each morning – great is His faithfulness.

Part 6: Praise Him (Again). Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song Five, Praise Him (by Doug and the Slugs)

v. 1 If any man be in Christ, then he has become a new creation.

Old things have passed away, behold everything has become new again.

God no longer knows the things that brought you to this place before you came here.

He only sees you holy now, faultless and blameless as you’re standing here.

 Chorus:

Praise him, lift your hands and praise him.

Praise him; Praise the name of Jesus.

Praise him.

 v. 2 Through the blood of Jesus His righteousness is like a flowing water,

Totally covering his garment of praise will now adorn you.

We live and reign forever, as kings and priests,

His blood is flowing through you now,

Royalty has finally found a place in you.

You can listen to this song by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

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Doug’s guitar, Bible, and worship books as displayed at his funeral in Grand Forks, ND

Such a quiet, worshipful, prayerful song. Listening to it brings tears to my eyes.  It seems to me that Doug is recognizing, with humility and gratefulness, the new life he has in Christ. He is forgiven; blameless before God.

I have to admit initially I had a difficult time understanding many of the words of this song.  The accompaniment is louder than the vocals.  I listened over and over and wasn’t sure I got them all right.  At first I thought this line in the first verse said

He only sees you holy now, hopeless and blameless as you’re standing here.

The word “hopeless” doesn’t seem to fit in with the thoughts and mood of this song, but I couldn’t make out what else that word is.

After pondering it for I while, I thought that perhaps it does fit.  We are hopeless without Christ.  And God knows that.  We have no ability to stand before a holy God without accepting His love demonstrated through the work Jesus did for us on the cross.  We began that journey of becoming a new creation – we have become before God, and we are becoming in this life.  This work of becoming is not finished in this lifetime. Yet every experience, every joy, every sorrow, every bump in the road can be an opportunity to let God shape us into that new creation we are becoming, if we let him.  And along the way, we realize that it is the righteousness of Jesus that clothes us, and “royalty has finally found a place in you.”

And then, after checking with Doug’s wife, I learned that the word was “faultless” instead of “hopeless”.  Well, in spite of the fact that we are hopeless without Christ, God graces us with Christ’s righteousness when we come to faith in Him, and we are “faultless” before Him.  That is a truely amazing gift of love!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  (I John 3:1)

Reflection

I invite you to listen to this song again.  Listen to it several times.  Sing along.  Let your voice praise along with Doug’s. Have you received God’s forgiveness by accepting his love as demonstrated through Jesus? Do you see yourself as God sees you?  As a new creation?  As covered and flowing with the life of Christ in you? If not, would you like to?  Talk to God about your thoughts and desires. Talk to a trusted pastor or friend who could help you.

Doug, Allison & Kate in Seattle for Aunt Susan's wedding

Doug with niece and daughter (L-R) in Seattle, WA, 1993, for a family wedding.

 

Part 2: Morning. Doug & the Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom

Song One, Morning (Doug Korg 01 Wfd)

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Today I listened to the first song Doug recorded on his recording Doug & The Slugs, Music from a Sick Man’s Bedroom. It is totally instrumental, a quiet melody in a minor key. Music written in minor keys often sound mournful and sad.  This one begins that way.

You can listen Morning it by clicking on the arrow below. Allow some time for the song to load.

Morning. Mornings were so hard towards the end of Doug’s illness, after the doctors had reported “there is nothing more we can do”. In the days and months that preceeded and followed his passing, I often would wake up with a jolt in the mornings, sometimes as early as 3am, remembering once again this new reality. That Doug’s cancer isn’t going away, that Doug is dying, or Doug has died. It was like hearing it for the first time and re-experiencing the shock and grief.  Stomach in knots.  Tears coursing down my cheeks. I would eventually realize I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I would slip quietly out of bed, and go to the living room with my Bible in hand.  Seated in my arm chair, I would turn to the Psalms, my lifeline during this ordeal, and read till God spoke to my need, bringing comfort and peace to my heavy and hurting heart.

Psalm 5:3 is circled in my Bible.  Actually, just the verse number “3” is circled.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Were mornings hard for Doug too as he was fighting cancer?  To wake up and remember once again, “O yeah, I have cancer.”  Did fear wash over him each morning?  Sadness?  Anxiety?  In the mornings did Doug seek God and find peace and strength to face the day? I think he did.  Because the music in Morning takes a turn.  The minor key turns to major, and the beat becomes livelier.  It seems almost hopeful as the music fades.

…for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. (Psalm 6:8b-9)

 Reflection

 My hope was restored each time I allowed God to comfort and speak to my concerns, particularly through reading the Psalms.  There were many ups and downs during Doug’s illness.  Times when he was doing well. And we rejoiced and were grateful. Times when he wasn’t.  And then I returned to my arm chair with my Bible, seeking God for help with the waves of anxiety and grief I experienced. I am reminded of the Rich Mullin’s song “My One Thing” which includes phrases from Psalm 73:24, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

What is troubling you today?  Are mornings the hardest?  Would you be willing to give God a chance to meet you where you are today? Listen to the song again. Then sit with God in the Psalms first thing in the morning, or during the night when you can’t sleep.  Read until something speaks to you. Meditate on it, which simply means think about it with God.  What is He saying to you?