Christian Songwriting: Behind the Lyrics of “Have Mercy”
By many measures, the past year has been really hard for many of us. Loved ones have been lost. Jobs have gone away. People have suffered physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally. Relationships have strained and ended. These are big traumas that need the patient care of Jesus.
However, I think it’s possible for God to work on many planes at once. And, while there is real suffering, I’ve been thinking a lot about a question—what if the obstacles we’ve faced this year were also ways for God to get the Church’s attention? What if our suffering is meant to purify us and lead us to a deeper, more vibrant faith that we live out in this world? What if, essentially, he’s reviving us? Could this be a season where we are actually drawn closer to God, and grow into a new place of holiness and devotion to him?
This song is a prayer that we’d respond to his leading humbly and see his work in us.
When our plans are brought to nothing
Expectations blown away
What will be left in the ashes on that day?
Fire consumes but leaves a blessing
Flame can singe and purify
Gold emerging from the ashes you cannot buy
Revive us, O God
Recapture our hearts
Like sheep, we have wandered astray
Revive us, O Jesus
Forgive us and lead us
Have mercy, revive us, we pray
In our failure and our weakness
In our selfishness and need
Raise a Church up from the ashes alive and free
Lord we lift you higher and higher
Lord we bow down lower and lower
Lord we lit you higher and higher and higher
Behind the Song
As I wrote this song, I was inspired by specific Scriptures. You might pick up on subtle references to them in the lyrics. Below are some of the key Scriptures:
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
He must increase, but I must decrease.