Rediscovering Your Song…

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

That’s what I told a group of cancer survivors last Sunday night at a Relay for Life banquet. It’s what I’ve come to believe. To survive cancer is to survive the silence—the deafening quiet that creeps in alongside suffering in hopes of suffocating the song that once sang its melody so gracefully, so faithfully, so willingly, so naturally.

There is a great price that often accompanies a great suffering. That price? A great silence. A time when the previous witness and words of a great faith are stifled by the traumatic strain of simply staying alive. Singing isn’t a priority when suffering steps to the front of the line. The song often gets buried, cast aside and forgotten, to simmer beneath the weightiness of pain and of what once was.

But here is the truth of the eternal song. Once the music has made its way into a heart, no amount of throwing and crying and denying its pulse can keep it buried forever. We can go to the grave refusing it a voice, but in the end, the music remains. It will find its chorus, even without our participation, because the King’s music is meant to be sung (peace for the journey: in the pleasure of his company,” 2010, pg. 7). 

Some songs don’t die. Some songs are just that strong, certain, truthful, and demanding. Some songs, God’s song, your song and my song, are still singing. Maybe you haven’t heard it in a long time; maybe, like me, it’s been buried beneath a season of grief and suffering. I want to encourage you today to not give up on the reality of the music that’s hiding deep within your heart. The melody remains, and whether or not you’ve been victimized by cancer or by another soul-eating something, you can know that your survivorship isn’t solely dependent on a pill or a program or the best resources available to you by doctors. The best of all of these remedies will only carry you so far in the process of healing. In fact, none of these may help you as it pertains to defeating your cancer.

But if you can defeat the silence that surrounds your cancer? If you can dig deeply to retrieve the melody that once sang so beautifully through your lips? Well, then you’ll have survived your disease in a way that yields eternal value. For our pain to matter, our pain needs a voice that is surrendered to the process of renewal. It’s a slow process that walks its own timetable. Silence doesn’t turn into song over night. But over night, a step in the right direction will yield a few notes… one or two or ten at first. One verse building on another until the music makes a melody that takes what once was and sings it more gracefully, more faithfully, more willingly, and more naturally. Almost as if that’s what God had in mind all along—a better song, refined and renewed through suffering.

To get there? Well, I don’t have the perfect strategy for curing your silence, but I have a few thoughts about how you might begin the process of rediscovering your song.

Remember. Take time to review the melody of your yesterdays—the days before your suffering began. Remember your voice, your faith, your hope. Reflect on the beauty that once was. Write it down, retrieve those memories, and linger upon them long enough until the refrain finds its way to your lips. And then, with that old song fresh in your memory…

Resist thinking that your old song was your best song. Refuse the enemy’s lie that the best has already been. Your best song is your next song—the one tempered and refined by the trials of life. God can and does write new notes into your musical score, not in an attempt to cover up the old ones, but rather to enhance them. To energize them. To fully empower them with the truth of his Spirit so that when you sing, you sing with understanding and with the certainty that all has not been lost in the suffering. God has been gained in the midst of great peril, and you have lived another day to sing the witness of his grace. And then, once you’ve made it past your remembering and your resisting, by God’s grace and with his permission,…

Rehearse. Start practicing your new song. A few notes today; a few more tomorrow, until you get the melody down, until it starts sounding familiar. Sing to yourself. Sing to your kids. Sing to your spouse. Sing to your friends. Sing to the mirror. Sing to God. Don’t worry about your voice. You’ll probably warble at first, crack your voice a time or two and turn a few heads in the process. Who cares? Songs of faith aren’t written to shame you. Songs of faith are written to reframe you. It doesn’t matter your performance with the melody. What matters is your willingness to try—to be so bold as to believe that you were meant to sing and that nobody, not one single person, can sing your new song as beautifully as you can. And finally, if you’ve made it this far with your remembering, resisting, and rehearsing, then…

Rejoice. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Thank God for the gift of the song. Over and over again, rejoice in the gift of the song, because the song begins and ends with God. In the beginning, he wrote the melody. Through his Son, he retrieved the melody from the depths of the deepest grave. And through the power of his Holy Spirit, his melody still sings through flesh—through you and me. What a gift! What privilege! What renewal is ours because of the song!

Being a survivor isn’t about defeating the cancer. Being a survivor is about defeating the silence.

Are you willing to do the hard work of soul-survivorship? I pray so, because no one can sing God’s song through you better than you. I believe this with my whole heart, and by God’s very good grace, I’m endeavoring to live accordingly. Remembering, resisting, rehearsing, and rejoicing all the way home to heaven. As always…

Peace for the journey,

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19 Responses to Rediscovering Your Song…

  1. I like it – and the post is really for such a wide audience.

    While touring Carl Sandburg's home in N.C. last week, I was impressed how much music played a part in HIS life. And then I came home and checked out a book I saw in the book store there – My Connemara – by his daughter. Once again, I could almost hear the songs while I turned its pages!

    I'm not sure it was "Kingdom music"–God knows. But it was an expression of a certain joie de vive (or however you spell the French term that I can't pronounce either….).

  2. Wow Elaine, I don't know how to express how your message and the song touched me. I too, know suffering. And your message brought me back to all the Lord has brought me through, as well as how He was with me in my struggle. I'm blessed because He healed me of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, and then miraculously, after five weeks or horrible withdrawals, took that, too. I still have a lot of health issues, most stemming from type 1 diabetes, but at least I can function now.

    I hope to encourage you by saying, if not for your suffering, Elaine, your message would not be quite as powerful as it is. But I'm praying the Lord touches your body and bring you healing as well!

    Love ~ Danie

  3. "…but in the end, the music remains." And I could hear YOUR music in your words today Elaine! Sing it,friend, sing it! I'm tapping my foot and clapping my hands along with you!!

  4. I've not battled cancer, but I remember a time not so long ago when I was speechless & dumbfounded, and certainly incapable of even a squeak, much less a song. The soaring part of my spirit had plummeted to a pit I didn't know could be so deep. The darkness there threatened to consume my very breath.

    But God gave the song … and in night seasons it is especially powerful. Thank you for such a powerful telling of so powerful a truth.

    Yes … God gave the song ! (Bill & Gloria Gaither)

    "You ask me why my heart keeps singing
    Why I can sing when things go wrong.
    But since I've found the source of music
    I just can't help it. God gave the song.

    Come walk with me thru fields and forests.
    We'll climb the hills and still hear that song.
    For even hills resound with music.
    They just can't help it. God gave the song.

    What's that I hear – I still hear that music
    Day after day. that song goes on.
    For once you know the source of music
    You'll always hear it. God gave the song."

  5. oh boy! This is for everyone. Who of us have not had that 'dark night of the soul' in one form or another? But, the song never dies once it is in our hearts, and one note at a time, it returns, maybe even in a different key, but always controlled by the giver of the song. This is so precious Elaine. Thank you!

    I've missed your words. So glad to catch up, been praying.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me how you always write exactly what I need to hear. You've inspired me…I'm thinking I'll sit at the piano this evening and play a few tunes. God knows I need the melody back in my heart.

    Miss you lots, love you even more.

  7. I thought of this very song when I was reading Elaine's post, Sassy! Great minds think alike, right? 😉

  8. Elaine, what a powerful message. Absolutely love it. Love the thought of our suffering, our pain, resulting in a better song. Excellent practical tips, too. Great post!

  9. this is beautiful, applicable, and helpful. one of my
    favorite songs is "how can i keep from singing?"

  10. Dear Elaine, I am a survivor of something other than cancer. Thank you for helping me rediscover my song. Blessings!

  11. I know, I know, I know you were such a blessing to those people. You comforted them with the comfort that you have received. How biblical!!

  12. There's a chapter in my upcoming book that deals with the fact that we all have "something." I'm so thankful that all of our "somethings" can be dealt with effectively through the blood and love of the cross, Valarie. Blessings, sister.

  13. Oh my sweet beautiful friend…this is one of your best blogs yet…amazing! Scripture has become my song but on those days I need to sing an actual tune I find myself singing those old hymns or the newer praise songs. Love that song you posted!!!

    Thank you for being so gifted at hearing God's voice and penning His words!!

    Striving to Live Out Loud~Pamela

  14. How precious, Elaine! Truth spoken by someone who has lived it. I am sure it meant the world to so many… and will continue to do so. Thank you for speaking out of the silence.

  15. "Well, then you’ll have survived your disease in a way that yields eternal value. For our pain to matter, our pain needs a voice that is surrendered to the process of renewal. It’s a slow process that walks its own timetable." So true, Elaine. I lost my song for nearly three years after cancer. I went into a deep depression but there was a reason that now is yielding an eternal value. I encourage all those who have lost their song to be patient and find hope in the promise of our Savior. Our song is there and as we are renewed, we will sing an even more beautiful song! Always – Cyndi

  16. I’m way behind in blogland…but just wanted to say I think your song is beautiful. I love everything you said here. “Resist thinking that your old song was your best song.” This thought alone contains tremendous encouragement no matter what we may find ourselves on the other side of. For me sometimes it is simply the loss of youthful energy and all the things I was able to do in years past that I can’t keep up with now. I sincerely thank you for this perspective! “Start practicing your new song…What matters is your willingness to try—to be so bold as to believe that you were meant to sing and that nobody, not one single person, can sing your new song as beautifully as you can.” I have come to a deep realization that there are some things in life that I can do, that I can be, that no one else can. I’m specifically thinking in terms of personal relationships such as wife, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, friend. And Christ is my Confidence as I learn to sing a new song at this stage of life. Just loved this post Elaine and can’t wait for your new book!

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