Until My Voice Is Gone
This song title has much more personal meaning to me since my recent battle with stage IV throat cancer. For a time my voice literally was gone. For several months I wasn’t sure if the radiation treatment damage was permanent, and if I’d ever be able to sing again. That was a challenging thought for me, although I did determine that my voice was God’s instrument to do with as He saw fit, so I surrendered it to Him. It felt very odd and empty to stand during worship services while everyone sang around me, yet not being able to join in.
Surprisingly, though, my singing voice returned before my speaking voice was back to normal. In fact, after voice therapy, I was back in choir only 5 months after my last radiation treatment! That seemed pretty miraculous to me, given the state of my voice when treatment ended.
There’s something about losing something and then regaining it which makes it a bit more precious. We tend to take what we have for granted, and neglect what we have to be thankful for. It is good for us to regularly stop and intentionally recognize and give thanks for our many blessings, especially those we may take for granted like our homes, our ability to see, walk, use our hands, hear, taste, and speak. Those last three were greatly affected by the cancer treatment, so, even though some losses remain, I am grateful for the degrees to which each of them have returned. I hope I don’t soon take them for granted once more. Being able to voice praises again after being silenced for months has made the renewed ability more of an offering of love and gratitude than it ever was before.
We need to take these opportunities to pause and reflect on God’s gifts, on who He is, and on whether we are giving Him the honor due Him. When we listen to the lyrics of this anthem there is such enthusiasm and energy being given to the occupation of praising God. We would do well to evaluate how much of our heart and soul we put into this calling ourselves.
C.S. Lewis said when we love something our enjoyment is not complete until we praise it. So when we have a good meal we might compliment the one who prepared it, or laud the establishment to our friends. When we enjoy a product, a program, or a book, don’t we tell others about it? This activity is actually a form of praise and is a natural outgrowth of our enjoyment of the object or person. What we love we laud. Given that, how often does our enjoyment of God give rise to our praising Him, whether to Himself or to others? When is the last time we’ve said in conversation, “Let me tell you how great God is to me” or “Let me tell you what God did in my life”? I can personally admit I don’t do this nearly often enough, and it grieves me.
What this song does so well is to remind us, through comparison, how amazing our God is. With all the rulers and powers out there, who else commands our attention like He does? Another good question here is, “Do we give Him the attention that even comes close to what is due Him?” What other name is as precious and powerful as His? Do we honor it, treasure it? Do we take the time and intention to realize how far above all principalities, powers, and rulers our God is? What power in our world scares us? Isn’t He infinitely above them all?
Do we preach the gospel to ourselves every day, as Jerry Bridges suggested we should do? Do we remind ourselves how great is our salvation? Do we regularly take time to express our gratitude for our redemption, for the cleansing of our sin and removal of our shame? Do we rehearse to ourselves the hope that awaits us in our eternal home, because of all He has done on our behalf?
How long is the attention span of our gratitude and praise? Do we come close to wearing ourselves out in praising Him, raising our hands and standing in honor until our knees buckle and our voices give way from our singing and shouting…even occasionally? Ever? Some of us have shouted our voices hoarse at a sporting event, but have we ever done the same in worship?
This song reminds us of who He is, how He saved us, then moves on to remind us of all He has given us in our daily lives—the hope, courage, peace and love. All of these, and so much more, are ours as we walk with Him each day. They are available to us if we will but look to Him. Do we realize what a vast treasure we have in Him? And do we acknowledge this abundant goodness through our gratitude and praise? I’d dare say that all of us could grow in both availing ourselves of all there is in Him and in praising for all He is and all He has done. His worth is so much greater than all His creatures can declare, let alone just one of us as an individual, yet we must all do our parts, with all that is within us.
It’s not something we work ourselves into by our sheer wills, but it is something we do through intentionally coming to Him, asking for His enabling to both see Him for all He is, and then express it—to Him, to ourselves, and to those around us—even until our voice is gone!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries
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