This past week, I had the privilege of gathering with a group of women for a time of worship. One particular song, “Great Are You Lord,” brought up a memory of another time I heard this tune. It was Easter Sunday two years ago, the day my nieces, Josephine and Vivian came home from the hospital.
Josephine and Vivian were born on April 13, 2017, only three days before Easter. From the moment Josephine was born, we knew her time on earth would be short. But the impact of her life would not.
My brother, Robert, has always been a gifted guitar player, and in more recent years, a gifted worship leader. Some of the moments I treasure most are those spent in the company of my brother as he plays his guitar.
On April 16, 2017, the songs we sang carried a heavier tune. While I cradled Josie under the bright Florida sun, my big brother taught me what it means to worship in all seasons. With tears streaming down both of our faces and big questions in our heart, Robert strummed and continued to proclaim, “Great Are You Lord.”
We were sitting in great tension that day. On the day set apart to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, his victory over death, and the life He lives and offers, our hearts were breaking at Josie’s present condition. But as we know well, this tension isn’t just felt on Easter Sunday.
Today we celebrate Vivian’s birth, even as we continue to long for Josephine. Even in the tension of the day, as celebration collides with sorrow, I am drawn once again to sing what my brother invited me to sing that day. Because Jesus meets us in both the celebration and the sorrow, pursuing us in every moment of every day, in every question, in every longing.
This past year has been a year of sitting in tension, of experiencing the paradoxes of life. Joy and pain. Beauty and brokenness. Fullness and poverty. Paradoxes and tension aren’t restricted to this part of the earth; they are everywhere. But for me they have been more visible and commonplace this year.
My brother unknowingly gave me a gift that day, a gift that many Ugandans have also since given me – a picture of trust even when it doesn’t make sense and an invitation to wholehearted worship.
Whether it’s on a back porch in Florida or in a Ugandan village church, gathering with other believers to worship has taught me about sitting in tension and far more about God. We can come with our questions, we can come raw and weak, we can come poor and empty. But we come because there is a God who came for us, who pursues us relentlessly and welcomes us in all seasons. Great are you, Lord.