For when you can’t sing in church.

Yesterday in church we sang together.

We sang the words,

“you’re never going to let, you’re never going to let me down”.

The words caught in my throat and I fell silent.

I couldn’t sing the words even though I have found them to be true. He is never going to let me down. I couldn’t sing it even though I believe it, and feel it. I couldn’t sing it although the core of my being is at peace with this statement.

I looked around me and I saw my friends. I saw their grief and struggles, I saw their pain.

I saw loneliness and illness, financial uncertainty and conflict. I saw lives rocked and uprooted by life’s unexpected twists and turns.

And then I thought of my life. I thought of the loss, the people who died despite our prayers, the relationships that remained unresolved, the illness, the sadness.

And I thought of all the times when I couldn’t sing this song.

It is hard to be thankful sometimes. Sometimes, no matter how much we tell ourselves it is true, the truth feels like a cruel joke. Sometimes being around people who are singing these songs can be very alienating. It can be a lonely experience, and you can come away feeling condemned and weak.

I have stood in church while everyone around me was able to sing these words of faith. I have struggled not to find their declaration overbearing, even smug.

If you are feeling like I have felt, if life has left you feeling battered and bruised, it is okay not to sing.

God doesn’t require your praise. And he is not disappointed in you for not having the capacity to speak truth over yourself in this moment.

If you cannot sing these words, if these songs feel too hard I have a word for you. I even believe it could be God’s word to you. (yikes thats a bit full-on isn’t it?!).

This is what he expects of you:


This is what he wants from you:


Be free not to sing. Be free to sit. Be free to cry. Be free.

There are times when singing is too hard. It’s okay.

Yesterday in church I was standing behind a dear friend. He was holding his 5 year old son. His beautiful boy was diagnosed with Autism a couple of years ago. Life has not turned out how any of them expected. Life has been bumpy and complicated.

Life is hard. It is hard to be living on this earth a lot of the time. Things happen that we cannot control, all the time. Stories don’t end as we had hoped. We don’t see the resolution we long for. It is okay to say it is hard. It is okay not to be able to sing.

And this was God’s word to me, and to you. As my precious friend held his son. As his son surrendered to the love of his Father. As he rested his head on his Dad’s shoulder he looked at me as I stood behind him. And his eyes spoke to me.

It is okay not to be able to sing.

Instead, be held.




  • Clare Russell-joned
    Posted at 15:57h, 19 September Reply

    So poignant and helpful! Felt lighter after reading this!

  • Maggie Greaves
    Posted at 16:04h, 19 September Reply

    I loved this, thanks so much. Do you know the poem, ‘God says Yes to me’? I think you’d like it too.


    Sent from my iPad

  • lizziedoodles
    Posted at 16:33h, 19 September Reply

    somewhat large concept to fall out with and way too ephemeral to rage at, what’s more it never promised anything in the first place. So I’m left eating chocolate and feeling angry with no outlet… Hold onto your faith, I know many for whom it has been the only thing that got them through, and keep on going. xx

    • lizziedoodles
      Posted at 19:51h, 19 September Reply

      Don’t know what happened to the first half of that…
      As a firm non-believer I don’t have a Faith to struggle with, just an anger and frustration with Life, which is a…

      • thehippochronicles
        Posted at 20:02h, 19 September Reply

        I’m so glad you came and wrote the first section – I was really confused! Yes, I am glad to have a faith, even if sometimes it is something to rage against and wrestle with. Xxx

  • Hannah
    Posted at 19:54h, 19 September Reply

    So true, and yes, I have learnt to just not sing, quite often, and i’m fine with that. It’s so freeing to realise, isn’t it ! But I always need reminding.
    Thanks for that reminder.

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 20:04h, 19 September Reply

      Yes, I needed the reminder too Hannah. It is very easy to slip into behaviour just because we think we should! Xx

  • QwertyK
    Posted at 21:03h, 19 September Reply

    It’s OK and I love that it’s OK, I have struggled to sing, this song in particular (and that’s coming from the front when meant to be leading worship). It’s strange, I stumble and then, all of a sudden they become battle songs. The tears flow and I praise/shout through them anyway, I know that I am to sing this over and for those who cannot sing it.
    I see and feel the pain and take comfort that it is not this world where we belong, we are but ‘passengers’ here, and await our home in eternity.

  • Tess
    Posted at 11:23h, 22 September Reply

    Thank you to Maggie for sending me this – It is so important in this Human Life to be accepted just as you are. I cried when I read it, I’m crying now, not out of sadness but grateful ‘awareness’ of Maggie’s friendship, not feeling alone, not feeling like I’ve ‘failed’ in some way. Bless you, Maggie – you feel like my ‘Other’ Mum in this Lifetime, the one who can face up to life’s disappointments, hurts and relationship difficulties without saying “Just trust in God, Tess, just pray about it”. My own dear Mum, now descended into vascular dementia, I can no longer phone and chat to, but Maggie’s still there for me. So, Thank You God, both for my own Mum with her ‘blind’ Faith, and for Maggie, with her Faith/Doubts and Honesty – I love them both!

  • nikihardywpuser
    Posted at 16:28h, 23 September Reply

    Love this, thank you so much. Visiting from H*W and will be sharing. xx

    • thehippochronicles
      Posted at 16:31h, 23 September Reply

      Thanks Niki. It was one of those posts that write itself as I stood in church… Was just glad I could remember it when I got home!

  • rutakintome
    Posted at 13:44h, 24 September Reply

    As they say in your part of the world, “Spot on.” 🙂 I tell my church sometimes that it is okay to just stand and listen…it is okay to come here and struggle…it is okay….

  • Mary Lou Caskey
    Posted at 14:37h, 24 September Reply

    Love this!! Wow, it’s powerful and glad to share it my fellow Hope Writers friend!

  • Trish
    Posted at 15:15h, 24 September Reply

    When you are part of a small worship team, you sing no matter what. Those times the words “sacrifice of praise” rattle around and around in my brain.

Post A Comment