What does it take to ignite a revolution? Guns? Bombs? Guerrilla warfare? In late-1980s Estonia, it took songs. After the people had lived under the burden of Soviet occupation for decades, a movement began with the singing of a series of patriotic songs. These songs birthed the “Singing Revolution,” which played a key role in restoring Estonian independence in 1991.
“This was a non-violent revolution that overthrew a very violent occupation,” says a website describing the movement. “But singing had always been a major unifying force for Estonians while they endured fifty years of Soviet rule.”
Music can also play a significant part in helping us through our own hard times. I wonder if that’s why we so readily identify with the psalms. It was in a dark night of the soul that the psalmist sang, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5). It was in a season of deep disillusionment that Asaph, the worship leader, reminded himself, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (73:1).
In our own challenging times, may we join the psalmists with a singing revolution for our hearts. Such a revolution overwhelms the personal tyranny of despair and confusion with faith-fueled confidence in God’s great love and faithfulness.
Psalms 42 and 43 fit together seamlessly and may have been written as one song. The concluding verse of Psalm 43 mirrors Psalm 42 verses 5 and 11. In these psalms we gain a window into the human spirit as it engages in profound emotional struggle. The author copes with his personal crisis by first acknowledging his desperate need of God. Then he outlines his problem. He’s in a dark place (42:3) and so he recalls better days (v. 4). Aware of God’s unfailing goodness to him in the past, he challenges himself: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? . . . Put your hope in God” (vv. 5, 11; 43:5). Yet questions linger (42:9; 43:2). In our spiritual struggles, our emotions must be acknowledged. It’s healthy to be completely honest before God, and it’s vital to keep our focus on Him in our emotional anguish.