dissonance and psalm 22

dis⋅so⋅nance

noun

1. inharmonius or harsh sound; discord; cacophony. 2. a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion.

Over the past couple of days, I had the opportunity to head into Toronto and spend some time with my good friends Chris Lewis and Jason Locke in and around Tyndale, our alma mater. The basis for the invitation to go into the city was a series of faith talks being given by Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making. I was not familiar with Andy at all, but as it turned out, his lectures were an amazing encouragement to me and a huge bonus on top of what was already an awesome time hanging out with the guys.

Andy is a gifted piano player and singer, and the theme of his talks was a slogan seen at Starbucks, “Live More Musically.” Andy would speak from the piano, incorporating music and song into his lecture. The third lecture was entitled ‘Dissonance’, and he spoke about the reality that, in life and certainly within the Christian experience, things can seem quite off, not quite what they are supposed to be. Essentially, we live in a dissonant world, where all falls short, where failure exists and is inevitable. There is discord, unrest, a crying out for resolution. And it is in the promise of resolution that we can put our hope. We are not to be held back by a fear of failure, of not meeting expectations. Rather, we are to acknowledge it and remember that God is glorified in weakness.

The ultimate form of dissonance and failure is death, and it is this fate that Jesus himself met on the cross. Those around him were expecting one thing, and were now facing an almost impossible scenario – the great failure of the Jesus movement, which had, at one time, promised so much. Certainly they would have been crushed when Jesus to cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

What Andy explained (in a way that I had never thought of before) is that in Jesus’ day, the Psalms were not numbered; therefore, if you invoked the first line in a Psalm, it would bring to mind the text in its entirety. In uttering these words, Jesus was reminding his followers of these words in Psalm 22:

24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

In the midst of the most dissonant note ever played in the course of human history, Jesus reminds us that him, all will be made right. There is a sense that no matter how bad things seem, there hope in the midst of dissonance and harmony in times of unrest.

I was so encouraged by this word from Andy, and it was important for me to hear this as Lauren and I continue to figure out what the future has in store for us. I trust, as Andy sang, that God believes in us, and that He is present in the midst of all dissonance.

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