The StruggleI’m going to gripe for a few minutes, so bear with me…

Normally, I prefer listening to Christian radio stations when I drive. I find it generally uplifting and better food for the soul than the alternative on other stations. Most of the pre-sets on my radio point to Christian stations and if one of them gets too yappy with talk, I switch to another one playing music. Of course, some of the songs are also reasons to switch stations, and that is the reason for this particular rant.

In August of 2012 the Christian band Tenth Avenue North released the album “The Struggle.” I like the band and their music. Unfortunately, though, I have an issue with the frequency with which Christian radio stations continue to play one song from that album, “Worn.”

Here are the lyrics to the song:

I’m tired, I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes
I’ve let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
‘Cause I’m worn

I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

My prayers are wearing thin
I’m worn
Even before the day begins
I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight
I’m worn
So Heaven come and flood my eyes

Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn
Though, I’m worn
I’m worn

If you weren’t depressed before hearing that song, you probably will be by the time it’s over. Then have it played during every normal drive time to and from work for months and you may just want to drive the car off a bridge somewhere.

I understand the appropriateness of capturing life’s moments – good and bad – in songs. Where would country music be without that? But it bothers me when Christian songs focus so much on the negative aspects of life. Don’t we have a better message to share with the world than that?

Yes, we all struggle. That’s normal. Yes, we all get tired and weary. That’s normal, too. But for the Christian who understands that this life is a very short beginning to an incredible, unending eternity with no more crying, tears, or pain, it seems at best self-indulgent and at worst faithless to spend so much time filling our minds and airwaves droning on and on with “woe is me” lyrics that hint at a possible escape but never actually get around to shouting the good news from the rooftops.

If I hear the above song on a station while driving, you can bet I’m going to change the station. Sadly, there have been times when I’ve changed stations only to hear it also playing at the same time on a different station! Gee whiz, folks, get over it! So you felt down for a bit, fine. If you have a clue about Christian faith, you know there is One on whom your focus should rest that gives you hope daily. Find yourself down in the dumps on occasion? I understand, but get into the Word and take your eyes off yourself long enough to remember that your purpose in life is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, and you’re doing neither when you’re camping out in a self-indulgent pity party.

I don’t fault the band for writing and releasing the song “Worn.” From their angle, it may represent a moment in time along the journey of faith that resonates with many others (although it seems that the lyrics of most songs on the album “The Struggle” are along this same line, hence the name “The Struggle”). I fault more the radio stations that give it and similar depressing songs much more air time than others that send a more helpful gospel message to the listening public.

As a rule, I enjoy contemporary Christian music. That wouldn’t be the genre of choice on my radio, downloads and CD collection if I didn’t. But I want songs with some depth and with some clear gospel teaching that points the listener in the right direction. I love, for example, the theological depth of the modern hymns written by Keith and Kristyn Getty. Their songs like “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross” are so full of truth and depth and the gospel message that the hearer cannot help but feel the power of the message within.

You might want to click the links for the two Getty songs in the previous paragraph to watch them on video while following the lyrics that display to the side of the video. You’ll notice a big difference in the content of those two songs compared to the 31 uses of “I’m,” “me,” “my,” etc. in the song “Worn.” While the two Getty songs contain the personal pronoun as well, the context is in the role of Christ for the person and not in the individual’s personal feelings and self-absorption. Perhaps there’s a lesson in the pronoun use: when we focus on ourselves and take our eyes off Jesus, we suffer the negative consequences.

Christians, don’t produce or use Christian music just because it sounds appealing musically. If it is “Christian” music, then the message contained therein must be sound. It’s OK to acknowledge struggles we all face, but don’t stop there, and don’t even think about focusing a Christian song on yourself as opposed to our Lord. We have enough repetitive, lightweight drivel in contemporary Christian songs used in worship these days, and too many simplistic songs with predictable phrases of church speak. We need more solid spiritual food for the soul.

We can and should do better in what messages we send to the public through music.

What do you think?

  1. Becky Williamson says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve “Buzzed” back. Although, I’m sure this business social networking initiative is very helpful to some, it’s usually a distraction to me. What caught my attention initially was the “go-getter or go-giver” post. I just had to read that one. Usually, I can’t even remember how to log in and give up before I get in. Today, once I read Jeffrey Ross’ post, I looked to the left and noticed your post. First, I was completely but pleasantly surprised at the post and was compelled to read it. My next thought was “this is cool,” someone is talking about Christian music. Then, as I read further, I thought “here comes another Wally show bashing” as I often hear on WayFM as I’m listening. Thanks for posting the lyrics and,after reading through them, I totally agree. I work from home now so I don’t have the commute to listen to my Christian radio. Normally, I just listen in the evenings now when I’m out and about. When I did commute, however, it was often the music and sharing on the Christian radio stations that helped prepare me for the day. This song would bring me down, too. I think it’s worth further research of the songs 12 Avenue North is putting out. If most of them are like this, it may be that they really just don’t get it or that they are using the Christian path to hit the mainstream as many artist do, sadly. Anyway, thanks for having the courage to post your opinoion. For what it’s worth, I agree and praying for more uplifting music on the airways. If you haven’t already, you should share with the stations. Thanks and God bless you!

  2. Chuck says:

    Jeff, just catching up on my reading and remembered this from the other day. First, great post. Personally as a Christian I do find that many of my days I am worn, but I get that part of it. To your point, I would much rather hear what can help me dig out of my worn-ness. I totally agree that this particular song is somewhat depressing.

    You accurately pointed out that the band very well may have been in a “place” when they wrote the song, but I believe that the radio station has some responsibility here to not belabor the point. Look, I get it. Radio stations are important in ministry and converting the lost. But let’s not forget those of us who HAVE experienced the transformation and need daily reminders of how wonderful life is after the fact.

    It’s a fine line and I appreciate those who put their heart AND souls into creating great music. But I’m with you. Give me a little celebration in there please. I need to be reminded that my life IS different now and being worn is old news.

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