Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Man of Sorrows...

(photo from
I'm not a bluegrass fan at all, in fact, you could almost say I despise it. It's too twangy and whiny. I guess the one time I actually really enjoyed bluegrass was on a trip Steph and I took to Mountain Home, Arkansas. We rolled into town late one Saturday afternoon and the court square was packed. Folks were sitting in little groups all over the square, so curiousity getting the best of us, we went into one little shop and asked what was going on. The clerk looked out the window, and said, "Well, looks like a bunch of folks just decided to come to town tonight." Thanks for that Captian Obvious. I figured that much out all by myself.

Turned out it was just a Saturday night thing. Folks would come into town and the sound of bluegrass would fill the air. That night was fun, but I'm still not a fan. Now, that being said, one of my favorite movies in the world, and favorite soundtracks, is "O Brother, Where Art Thou." Totally bluegrassy, if that's a word, but I love it. And of course, you can't think of "O Brother, Where Art Thou," without thinking about the Soggy Bottom Boys singing, "Man of constant sorrow." And I can't think of the Soggy Bottom Boys singing, "Man of Constant Sorrow" without thinking about Isaiah 53.

I don't know that the two have anything to do with each other, but Isaiah says "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not."

Now some say that refers to Christ. Some say it refers to the nation of Israel. You can decide what it says to you, but what it did to me this morning was remind me of the number of folks who feel like they are folks of constant sorrow. Some folks just cannot catch a break, and "Man of Constant Sorrow" has become their theme song. But when I hear that song, and remember the words of Isaiah, I understand that they are not alone, never have been, never will be. They're actually in pretty good company.

Now, is that going to make them feel better about their situation? Probably not. But there are times when I think that is one of the beauties of the incarnation. God became human to experience first hand what it feels like to be a man of constant sorrow. So, now can God not only sympathize with us during those times when the whole world seems to be against us, God can empathize with us, because God has been there...and, it might just be easier for us to trust someone leading us through a tough time if we know they've been there before. Just a thought.

So, sing on Soggy Bottom Boys, even if it's twangy and whiny. I'll listen. Speak on Isaiah, whichever Isaiah you are. I hear what you're saying. And for those times in my life when I feel like a man of sorrow, I'll remember that someone else has been there before, and is waiting to help guide me through it.


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