What does it take to turn a heartache into a hallelujah?
We are broken people, walking around with gaping wounds that we try to cover, tender skin we don’t let others see. We live among other brokens who touch our wounds, not knowing where they place or misplace their words. And we break and we bleed all over again.
The heartbroken woman who’s been trying to conceive for years, listening to her momma friends talk endlessly about their babies and how all they want is some sleep. And she’s been sleepless for years, wishing it was for their reason.
The husband whose wife is terminally ill, wondering what their precious little ones will do without their mom, wondering if she’ll make it through the night, broken open and longing for one more tender kiss of the cheek and flutter of her eyelashes.
The six-year-old boy whose parents hurl insults like javelins, until the final blow lands as his dad packs a bag, and even now as a twenty-six-year-old, he still remembers the faded blue duffle and the smell of a roast in the oven as the door of the house slammed and the door of his heart clicked closed.
How do we utter a hallelujah in these moments? Some say it’s time that allows us to breathe the hallelujah, weeks or months or years later, after the wounds develop scabs and the new skin starts to grow and we can see the tiny glimmers of hope.
But maybe it’s in the choosing to breathe a hallelujah, ragged and raspy and cracking with the tears, that causes the healing to begin.
Hallelujah is a call for all the people to praise God. Not just a reminder to the self, something we say because we know it’s the thing to do because Job did it, and we want to be people of the Word.
It’s an all-call to invite people into the mess and the broken parts, to show our wounds and ask the people to praise God with us and for us and on our behalf. It’s a community awakening, a reminder that He is both good and great, faithful and unfailing. We whisper our hallelujahs in the hope that someone has the strength to shout one for us in the moment of our weakness.
We sing hallelujah; we sing hallejuah; we sing hallelujah; the Lamb has overcome.
We sing hallelujah, calling for people to see the suffering of our Lord, the depth of His despair, the agony of His death.
We sing hallelujah, calling for people to see the empty tomb, the empty womb, the empty heart, ripe for the resurrecting.
Out of the freshness of the jagged cut, out of the deepest parts of our agony, out of the churning in our stomachs and the swimming of our heads, we open our mouths, even as our throats constrict, and we let out a gutteral cry: hallelujah!
And the Lord, the Lamb, overcomes our fear with hope, our twisted guts with gratitude, our broken pieces with wholeness. He touches the wound, and we wince and whimper and twist away, but then we turn back and invite the healing again.
Slowly, His touch starts to heal those pieces from the depths, but not without the pain of alcohol cleansing the open wound. And slowly, we start to uncurl our fists, open our squeezed-shut eyes that have finally stopped leaking tears, and tentatively look around to see the work He is doing and to make sure He’s still there.
And as we see His work and feel His gentle touch, our hallelujahs becomes a little louder, a little clearer, a little grittier as we dig in and let His healing continue.
And when our praise becomes a shout, we sing to others of the God who binds up our wounds. The God who turns our heartaches into hallelujahs every time.