By GINNY OWENS
I have loved music ever since I can remember. Melodies and lyrics move my mind and speak to my soul in ways nothing else does. I began plunking out songs on our secondhand upright piano when I was 2, singing my little heart out as I played “Jesus Loves Me” and “God is So Good.” After losing my eyesight a year later due to a degenerative eye condition, God gave me the courage to keep singing these lyrics — and to keep embracing them with a child’s faith.
In my new book, “Singing in the Dark,” I approach the Bible as our ultimate songbook, guiding us in worship and in life. The more prominent its songs become in our hearts and minds, the more hope and peace we can experience in our everyday lives. Below is an excerpt that I pray will encourage you to sing hope, no matter what you might be facing.
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us to not be anxious about anything. Instead, he said, take your requests and thankfulness to God, and peace that we can’t even comprehend will surround us and protect our minds in Jesus.
Paul didn’t suggest that we not be anxious — he commanded it. Which shows, at the very least, that it’s possible to not be anxious. Why would he command us to do something that is impossible? Paul never said God would answer our worries according to our wishes. But he said, to paraphrase, “Don’t worry; pray.”
The key here is bringing those worries to God with gratitude. In the Bible, we often hear of people full of fear about what was happening or devastated by what had happened, yet they recounted God’s faithfulness as they prayed. I have come to love recounting to God how He has been faithful, because it instantly changes my perspective. It’s mind-blowing that the God who spoke to Leah, Moses, and even Adam and Eve, also listens to and speaks to us and cares about our lives.
Every night now, I make a gratitude list of at least five things I’m thankful for. No matter what kind of day I’ve had, I start writing as I pray, and I rarely end up with only five things on that list. By the time I get to my requests, I feel a renewed confidence and peace because, as I look back over my day and over the history of God’s faithfulness, I have a sense that even if my circumstances don’t change, He will guide me through, as He has always done.
We learn through Paul’s words to the Philippians that prayer is the place where God’s strength overpowers our weakness, and His faithfulness overcomes our fear. Without prayer, there is no singing in the dark. There’s no joy. No rest from anxiety. But prayer with gratitude enfolds our hearts with peace. In the midst of my most restless hour, as I began to practice what Paul commanded, things began to change.
When I wasn’t on the road, I was at my home church, learning to be in community. I learned to forge ahead during the awkward moments of getting to know new people. I learned to keep showing up for small group, no matter how uncomfortable or even outright boring it could feel. And through sharing the lives of others, day in and day out, I gained a sense of grounding, leading to a peace I hadn’t experienced before.
I also began to pray differently. I talked to God about everything that was going on, with a renewed belief that He saw and cared and could bring change.
New community and a deeper attention to Scripture and prayer led to a bigger view of God and began the evolution of a new, more peaceful me. I started to learn how to fight my tendency to worry. Instead of being dominated by stressful circumstances, I began to train my mind to move in the opposite direction — toward the peace of Christ.
Worry and restlessness are constant battles — battles that most of us will face until eternity. And for some of us, medication is a life-changing aid. (Praise God for brilliant scientists.) But God also longs to give us life-altering, soul-resonating peace through Himself, His Word, prayer, and community with other believers.
Excerpted from Singing in the Dark by Ginny Owens and edited for length, © 2021. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.
Born and raised in Jackson, Ginny Owens is a singer-songwriter, recording artist, author, speaker, and laughter enthusiast. She lives in New York and is in her final year of seminary for a master of biblical studies.