From Carl Trueman, “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?” in The Wages of Spin (pp. 159-160):
Perhaps . . . [the Western church] has drunk so deeply at the well of modern Western materialism that it simply does not know what to do with such cries and regards them as little short of embarrassing.
A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party—a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals.
Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is—or at least should be—all about health, wealth, and happiness corrupted the content of our worship?
. . . In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship.
Does our contemporary language of worship reflect the horizon of the expectation regarding the believer’s experience which the psalter proposes as normative?
If not, why not?
Is it because the comfortable values of Western middle-class consumerism have silently infiltrated the church and made us consider such cries irrelevant, embarrassing, and signs of abject failure?
Christians are often required to suffer pain for the sake of the glory of God. I can see this pain on the faces of people in our corporate worship times at Grace Presbyterian Church. As a person tasked with the selection of hymns and songs for our congregation, I try to pick songs that allow for lament and provide encouragement in pain. For example, “God Moves In a Mysterious Way.” I find most songs like this to have been written long ago.
However, as Trueman suggests above, the Psalms are the best way to express all of the emotions God’s people have, the highs and the lows, the negatives and the positives. I hope to introduce the singing of the Psalms in our formal worship over the next few months