Matt Redman is a gifted Christian musician, worship leader and songwriter. I suspect you have heard a few of his songs, several of which we have sung over the years at TCASC. One of my favorite of his songs was written right after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Matt and his wife Beth co-wrote a worship song called “Blessed Be Your Name.”
They wrote the song to help inspire worship–and hope–in the dark and tragic times of our lives. They found their inspiration from the words of Job, who continued to worship God even in the face of devastating loss. In Job 1:21, he said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Here are the familiar lyrics to their song:
Blessed be Your name, in the land that is plentiful, Where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name, when I’m found in the desert place, Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name.
Every blessing you pour out, I’ll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name. Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name.
Blessed be Your name, when the sun’s shining down on me, When the world’s ‘all as it should be’, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering, Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.
You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name!
I have two distinct memories of singing that song, and they are both very emotional. The first came on October 31, 2004 on the last Sunday of the previous church I pastored. We had come to the conclusion that, for reasons we did not understand, that season of ministry was over and it was time to close the doors on the church we had planted. It was probably the most painful day of my life. But, at the end of that service that day, we sang “Blessed Be Your Name.”
Fast forward a few years. It was July of 2006, and my family and I were active members at Shelby Crossings. I was working in the mortgage business, which was starting to crash, and I wasn’t making much of a living. I was still grieving the loss of our church, trying to discern the Lord’s will whether I still had any kind of future in ministry, but not finding any answers. I had two terminally ill parents, a wife and six kids–including four teenage daughters–and we were broke. We were walking in the proverbial wilderness, and I could not have been any more miserable.
I was asked to go as a sponsor with the youth group to Daytona Beach for a Student Life conference. Chris Tomlin was the main worship leader and one night he led us in that song. I remember having to get up and walk to the foyer, where I was overcome with emotion and wept almost uncontrollably. I remember so vividly the pain, the doubts, the confusion, the frustration with God, as I stood in that arena that night. And yet, through the tears, I did my best to sing along. “My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name!”
Sometimes we live in the land of the plentiful, where the streams of abundance flow, and other times, we find ourselves in the desert. Sometimes it seems the sun is shining down on us and the world’s all as it should be. Other times the road is marked with nothing but suffering. Through it all, as Job discovered, He is still with us, and we must make the choice to say, “Lord, blessed be Your name”…anyway.
In this time of pandemic, when there’s plenty of frustration, confusion, isolation and for many, some pretty dark times, I pray the Lord will give you a faith that endures, even sometimes through tears. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away–and He is still Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Hang in there, friends. We will get through this, together, even as we are currently apart. I am praying for you all daily, as I hope you are for me, and I can hardly wait to get to the other side of this thing so we can gather together again in His name. For now, let’s make the best of what we have, to be His church, wherever we are. And please, continue to be safe, be wise, be careful and be faithful. We love you!