The Story Behind: Shalom

Post written by Carolin Collins:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.

This past fall my Aunt Melissa suddenly became very ill. Weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer, too sick to begin any treatment. My mom's oldest sister, who had seemed healthy a month ago, was now on a hospital bed with word from the doctors-"there's nothing we can do."

My mom and I are as close as two can be. Best friends to say the least. During these few weeks that felt like minutes and years all at once, I watched her come and go from the hospital each day, facing the reality of unexpected death of her sister. My grandparents having to watch their first born quickly fade, seeming less and less like her self. I felt helpless. Praying for a miracle, sitting in silence with my mom-everything seeming futile, there were no words.   

Three years prior, when I was seventeen, my dear friend Hannah was sitting with a book opened reading about Christ's resurrection when she suddenly was taken to be with the Lord. This was my first encounter with death. I came to the awareness of how chronically unconscious I had been living life. Death woke me from that sleep.   During the time my aunt was sick, I had been reading in Habakkuk and opened the book one night. I hadn't felt like singing or writing, and honestly didn't want to worship God. My whole being ached. I stared at the words of the prophet-questioning God, lamenting relentlessly, yet remembering His mercy and foreseeing His reign.   I remembered at one of the tracks at 10,000 Fathers, thirty or so of us gathered in a basement before we departed. With little explanation or instruction, we sang the word Shalom in monotone unison to one single chord. As harmonies grew and melodies were birthed, it was the most aesthetically peaceful moment within the chaos of all the diverse melodies.   

That night, staring at the scripture "yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in the God of my salvation"18, I began singing shalom out of lament and desperation. But I wondered-why do I have peace? When I think of the worst that could happen, I don't fear pain like I used to. Though I feel the crippling depth of it. I now welcome tragedy because life is tragedy to begin with. I'm now aware that the suffering that comes with life is to be welcomed not avoided. And just as much as it is to be welcomed, it is not ours to carry. Our Lord is coming, indeed He is with us. He is faithful within this tragedy. We avoid grief out of lack of peace. But with peace, we can be honest and welcome sorrow, seeing it as the gateway to the garden of abundant life.

The day after that night, we had a song due for huddle. Within four hours of that lament, I had a first draft. After sharing the next day in huddle, Aaron messaged me asking to work on it together. I was overwhelmed when I looked at the worksheet with all of his ideas! I couldn't have imagined it to be what it is now without him. He took the original verses and made sense of them in the most beautiful way. And through the process modeled such humility and authentic desire for the song to keep its honest meaning. Later sending me the bridge based out of the beginning of Habakkuk 3 and adding the serene piano interlude before it. I am so thankful for Aaron's discipleship and willingness to pour into me both practically and spiritually.

I pray this song brings peace within sorrow and hope for the day that is soon to come!