By Daniel Gordon Ang, Indonesia
This song by MercyMe struck me immediately when I listened to it. It is well setup musically, well written, and has a significant spiritual message which many of us can readily identify with.
From the first verse of the song, it is obvious that this song is about pain and suffering. Many of the hard experiences we go through in life are difficult to understand, as expressed precisely by “Why this happened I cannot explain.” We often wonder why God doesn’t make “an easier way” for us. This is hence the problem of pain. We wonder: Why would a God who is supposed to be good, caring and all-powerful, allow sufferings?
At times our call becomes like that of Job (30:26-27):
So I looked for good, but evil came instead.
I waited for the light, but darkness fell.
My heart is troubled and restless.
Days of suffering torment me.
Often we are told that it is part of God’s greater plan. However, sometimes even this is hard to believe, as the songwriter makes evident in “I cannot see the bigger picture taking place.” At this point, in terms of content, the song has turned very pessimistic indeed. But when the chorus starts, it is a message of hope: “My heart will fly, when I see You face to face.” This is sung in a dreamy manner, with echoes in the background and lush strings accompaniment. The hope is building, but it isn’t fully realized yet. This happens afterward, when suddenly the music turns around with a strong, upbeat instrumental interlude followed by the next verse that proclaims, “on that day we’ll finally know as we are fully known.” This is a definite hope in the future, where in heaven we will know why God made us go through that particular experience. This wonderful twist is similar to the beautiful statement of hope found in the midst of Job’s soliloquies on suffering (Job 19:25-27):
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and He will stand upon the earth at last.
And after my body has decayed,
yet in my body I will see God!
I will see Him for myself.
Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes.
I am overwhelmed at the thought!
The next chorus brings about a new energy, as the expressed hope burns strongly. In the bridge the optimistic vision comes to a climax: “What appears as incomplete is still completely Yours.” Notice that it “is completely Yours,” not just “will be Yours”. Now, beyond any shadow of doubt, we know that God is and has been in charge all along. And finally when we come to “And we’ll soar,” it seems as if Bart Millard’s voice really soars, blending in with the strings and electric guitar accompaniment that takes over. After this, the chorus is repeated, full stream, ending with another lingering “fly”.
Overall, the use of flying and soaring imagery in MercyMe’s song is highly effective, with fitting musical treatment as well. Up to the end the songwriter (and hence, we) may not fully understand suffering. However, we have faith that God “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (Romans 8:28). And so, the problems of life are given a resolution, not through a torrent of prayers asking for strength or deliverance, but by a simple, straightforward faith in God’s Word and His promises.