Heartache and long distance relationships are frustratingly inseparable. Sure, distance has its moments of joy. But it also has its moments of deep, deep sadness.
When my heart is crushed by this level of sorrow, I don’t want a shallow song. I want something that articulates both my grief and God’s goodness. I want something that will remind me of the truth in the Bible I can’t bring myself to open.
The following four songs have been vessels of encouragement at different dark moments in my life. When the pain of missing each other is just too much, listen and sing these songs together.
1. “It Is Well” by Horatio G. Spafford
The longer my boyfriend and I were apart, the harder our video calls became.
We loved seeing each other’s faces, but the calls was a glaring reminder of our separation. Sometimes, there were no more encouraging words to say — none that felt real, at least.
In those moments, I would start singing the old hymn, “It Is Well.”
I’m sure my computer-distorted voice didn’t sound pretty, but there was nothing pretty about our situation. The clearest way I can describe this song is that it’s a lullaby lament — an emotional hymn from the perspective of someone who is suffering deeply, and yet, their soul finds peace in the Lord.
What better hymn to sing when you have nothing left to say?
2. “If” by Beautiful Eulogy
Reminiscent of the book of Job, the central question haunting this song is, What if I lost everything?
The vocalist attempts to answer this question, honestly asking what would happen if God took away everything, from his ministry to his wife. He admits, “What’s concealed in the heart of having is revealed in the losing of things. And I can’t even begin to imagine the sting that kind of pain brings.”
But the most powerful part of this song is its description of God’s sovereignty in our suffering:
“I would never blame you for evil, even if you caused me pain. I came into this world with nothing, and when I die it’ll be the same. I will praise your name in the giving and taking away. If I have you I could lose everything, and still consider it gain.”
“If” strikes a chord with Lamentations 3:32-33, “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion…for he does not afflict from his heart.” Like Job and Jeremiah, we remember that God is both just and merciful, and that Jesus is all we need.
While I didn’t learn about this song until recently, I think it’s worth a listen if you’re wrestling with the question, What if we never see each other again?
3. “Satisfied In You” by The Sing Team
When I was driving 12 hours to visit him, my boyfriend often made me a playlist. This song by The Sing Team came from one of those lists.
If you relate to Psalm 42, you’ll appreciate this song. Most of its lyrics come directly from the psalm, including the familiar refrain, “Why are you downcast oh my soul?”
The simple beauty of this song is its dependence on Scripture. The lyrics that aren’t sourced from the psalm provide insight into the metaphors. The message at its heart is “I am satisfied in Christ alone.”
This is a song to sing to yourself when you know that truth, but you’re having trouble believing it.
4. “Doubting Doubts” by Citizens
In truth, “Doubting Doubts” is about a lack of faith more than it’s about a lack of joy. But if you’re like me, the two often go hand-in-hand. Moments of sorrow threaten to shake the foundation of my trust in God.
This song is slow and searching. It’s the anthem of someone who has been trying to believe for a long, long time. Someone who is finally realizing that they need Jesus’ help to overcome their unbelief, like the man in Mark 9:24.
This song ends with a strong affirmation of the gospel. It reminds you that your doubts do not negate your status as a child of God. When you have been saved by Jesus, you can always and forever say, “I’m His kid no matter what I’m feeling.”
Like the rest, “Doubting Doubts” is a song to listen to when you know you’re not responding to your suffering in the best way. All of these songs can be helpful when you don’t really feel like a Christian, or you don’t feel “close” to God.
But after you’ve listened, take out your earbuds. Humble yourself in prayer, and open the Bible. While God can speak to you through a song, nothing reveals His voice more clearly than His Word.