I’m a Bono fied U2 fan (see what I did there?)
I think their music is a bona fied fusion of the rock-n-roll spirit and bold, justice-seeking faith. I feel sincerity in the songs that I don’t often come by in most other stuff under the U2-avoided label of “Christian Rock.” There are U2 songs that I can count on to send my spirit soaring every single time I hear them. The anthem “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is forever worthy of a volume crank clockwise and I’m always hooked by the transcendent wall of sound built in their “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
When I was a wandering seeker in my late teens/early 20’s, their honest songs evangelized to me, enormously. The lyrics invited me to want the passion behind the music for myself. At a time in my life when I wasn’t really sure if I was ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it came to God, the Bible, Christ… there were songs by U2 that made it feel less lonely to be wrestling; that my doubts did not have to fully disappear before belief could take ahold of my life.
When I felt lost and worn-out in the empty pursuits of the world, music broke through and drove right into my spirit. It was quenching. So I’m a fan.
The Psalms are that for me too.
They are a place to turn in the Bible where lyrical words spill out to quench the dryness of being. Bono has publicly shared of his love for the Psalms too. For many years, the band would close out their live shows with their song “40” whose lyrics were plucked right from the Psalms, most of it from Psalm 40:
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in Him.”
Bono commented on the song “40” by saying: “..literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape of T-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from Psalm 6: ‘How long (to sing this song).’ I had thought of it as a nagging question, pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long hunger? How long hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalizing of such questions could bring such comfort — to me, too.”
We’ve all been there; in a slimy pit. Whether we got there through clueless wandering, selfish sin, or Earthen circumstance; life will have us crying out for a lifting, for a new song, at one point or another …and then again, and again. If you have hope and couple it with wonder, than you carry the nagging question: “How long?” Hope is really just an incessant prayer, an urgent tugging at the attention of God. I’m beginning to think that hope is how God calibrates our Faith to live with both a sense of urgency and a spirit of patience.
Regrettably, I’ve not yet been to one of U2s live shows (it’s on my bucket list); but I’ve heard them oft described as a spiritual experience. And really, with lyrics so infused with the Word of God, if you’re a believer, than it is actually worship! I hear that when U2 ends their shows with “40” the bandmates one by one stop their instruments and leave the stage. The audience keeps singing as the lights come up. Even as they leave the arena and go to their cars, the thousands keep singing, over and over with the refrain.
Hope is hard because sometimes our breath runs out repeating the refrain “How long?” But don’t stop. I encourage you; if it’s the only song you have, the only lyrics you know, just keep singing. He listens. He will answer. We all will get to sing a new song.