Multicultural WorshipStories

Song Story: Why

I remember vividly the night that my brother Abraham Deng came in to our worshiping community with a heavy heart. Abraham is usually upbeat and outgoing. Often his answer to the question “how are you?” is an enthusiastic “better than I deserve!” That night something was different. We could see it. We could feel it.

In the middle of worship, we asked him if he was willing to share the burden he was carrying. And, he poured out to us words about his father-in-law’s recent death and the sadness he was carrying. He also shared with us how difficult it was to be apart from his wife and kids (at the time, Abraham was living in the US while waiting on his family to get permission to come from Sudan).

That night, because we asked, he offered us his grief, his tears, his questions. And, to be honest, we didn’t have any easy answers or quick platitudes. I remember that a hush fell over the room as we sat, in silence, bearing Abraham’s burdens with him. Surprisingly, everyone, from the 7-year-old kids to the most talkative adults were silent for more than 5 minutes. I am sure that some were praying. And some were feeling. And some were unsure what to say. And, some were all three of those at the same time.

After more than 5 minutes of sitting together in silence, I began to hear a melody floating through my imagination. I moved to the piano and played softly. That night the song, “Why?” was born. It started with a melody, and then the word “why?” which we sung over and over. Eventually, the first section emerged just exactly as it remains now. “Why? Why, Lord? I don’t understand.”

A few days later, my brother Emmanuel and I sat with the song a bit more and began to flesh out the other sections, adding the Burmese language. We wanted to create a space for people to bring their own questions and insert them into the song.

So many of the songs in the book of Psalms contain the questions “Why?” and “How long?” And, yet, so rarely we make space for such questions in our worshiping communities. We are learning to do that more. In fact, the questions you hear spoken in the middle of the recording of “Why?” are questions that surfaced in our worshiping community when we made space. The questions are there. The grief is there. The confusion is there.

Will we make space for these? And, can we encounter God in the midst of such realities in our lives? This song is a declaration that not only can we, but we must. It is in these moments with one another and with God that we are all healed together, little by little.

[written by Josh Davis]


WHY

Written by Joshua S. Davis and Emmanuel Matu
Download mp3 and chord chart

LYRICS (Burmese + English):
Why? Why, Lord? I don’t understand.
ဘာ‌ကြောင့်လဲ ဘာကြောင့်လဲ သခင် ဘာကြောင့်လုပ်ရက်တယ်
Why? Why, Lord? I don’t understand.
ဘာ‌ကြောင့်လဲ ဘာကြောင့်လဲ သခင် ဘာကြောင့်လုပ်ရက်တယ်

My eyes are filled with tears, my heart is filled with questions.
I don’t understand.
My eyes are filled with tears, my heart is filled with questions.
I don’t understand.

How long, how long will this pain last?
How long, how long ‘til this has passed?

My eyes have not seen. My ears have not heard the sound.
ငါမမြင်နိုင်တော့ဘူး အသံတော်ကိုမကြားရတော့ဘူး
My heart can’t conceive what you have prepared, what you have prepared for me.
ယုံကြည်နေမယ် ကိုယ်တော်ပြင်ဆင်ထားတဲ့ အရာတွေ

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