"God Believes in You" - A Church Song I Actually Like

"God Believes in You" - A Church Song I Actually Like

Now if you know me (or read any of my work) you know there are two "Christian" trends that set me off 1) A pseudo-Christianity that is just self-affirmation in sheep's clothing and 2) Sappy, me-focused church music that enforces the self-affirmation garbage previously mentioned. 

So it may come as a sheer shock to you that I have fallen in love with a song that, at first glance, seems to warmly embrace the attitudes that I loathe. "God Believes in You" was written by singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis and was released in 1998 (which is important because it was released before the me-focused church music trend had begun its swell to the levels we see today). The harrowing lyrics and authentic vocals bring the song to life.

Before we get into why I like this song it would be prudent for you to take a listen.

 

I was introduced to this song in a footnote of James K.A. Smith's book Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works. Smith is unpackaging a thought that our habits and actions do more to form our lives then our beliefs do. As he is breaking down a passage from David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest where a character is having trouble in an AA meeting grasping the methodology. Specifically that in AA there is a reliance on a God that will help you even if you don't necessarily believe in him. This is the context where I was introduced to Pettis' song and the key line "you swear you don't believe in him / God believes in you."

Straight away it is obvious that this is not some syrupy sweet statement of personal affirmation that sets you at the center of God's universe and relegates God to a position of man pleaser. Rather, it is an affirmation that in all our brokenness which gives God every rational reason to give up on us, he does not. Even if we want him to, he does not.

Let's look at the lyrics:

"Everything Matters if Anything Matters at All" - The Lyrics

When you start to doubt that you exist
God believes in you
Confounded by the evidence
God believes in you

When your light burns so dim
When your chances seem so slim
And you swear you don't believe in him
God believes in you

When you rise up just to fall again
God believes in you
Deserted by your closest friends
God believes in you

When you're betrayed with a kiss
You turn your cheek to another fist
It does not have to end like this
God believes in you

Oh, everything matters
If anything matters at all
Everything matters
No matter how big, no matter how small
Oh, God believes in you
God believes in you

When you're so ashamed that you could die
God believes in you
And you can't do right even though you try
God believes in you

Blessed are the ones who grieve
The ones who mourn, the ones who bleed
In sorrow you sow but in joy you reap
God believes in you
 

Poetry is better defined by the person reading it, so I won't labor too much on trying to explain it all. Instead, I am going to share how these lyrics make me feel. 

I often feel faced with my own end. Whether it is the end of my own life, the current project I am working on, the potential failure of massive endeavors (read: EC), or the changing seasons that bring uncertainty, I often think about their conclusions. 

Negative emotions often come along for the ride. I see the failures of my life and notice that they are clearly marked with my own fingerprints. I own them. They are mine. Whether or not they define me is for a future generation to decide because I get so wrapped up in "starting to doubt that [I] exist," and I feel like calling out like another famous musician, "Is there anybody alive out there!?!" 

The fact is that I don't believe in myself and I have trouble believing that God believes in me. Truly I find it easier to believe that God exists than to believe that I am even a blip on his radar. But, if this song holds any truth (and I believe it does), then "everything matters if anything matters." Certainly, there are many things that matter to God and therefore so must I. 

If only those words which are so easy to type on a keyboard could seep into my soul! But, as this song points out, instances of failure, betrayal, desertion, mourning, and existential doubt outnumber the evidence of truth about God. These are not intellectual understandings. These are experiences that hurt deep down in your gut. These are problems that the intellect can't comprehend. But just because intellect can't grasp and negative experiences are accumulated, it doesn't negate the universal truth that God believes in you. 

I need that reminder from time to time. I need to be reminded that he left his church in the shaky hands of tainted saints. Why? Because he believes in us - despite our poor track record. 

More Please!

I desperately wish that songs like this would be included in congregational singing. I can just imagine the power of a song leader encouraging the people with these words. But there is something even more powerful and grander that could take place during Christian gatherings. 

I can imagine what it would be like for the congregation to sing this to each other. Affirming the "God-ness" they see in the person sitting next to them in the pew. To look into the eyes of their neighbors and personally affirm that despite your frail faith and unsure footing, God believes in you. It would certainly be a welcome change from the typical gossip that is spread by the same mouths that worship Jesus. 

Two roadblocks can keep this from happening. First, it takes a music leader with some serious guts to sing a song like this, as it is intended, to her congregation. If you want to sing a song like this, you have to KNOW that it is true. Second, I'm not sure it is entertaining enough for most crowds. A song like this doesn't headline a Passion Conference or found on the latest Hillsong Album (are the still called albums? I'm 32 but I talk about music like I'm 52!). It won't get much play on the radio, but this is a powerful song that is full of true truth (to borrow a term from Francis Schaeffer). 

I want more, please. More of the truth of this song to seep into my soul and more of my Christian brothers and sisters to affirm this in other people. 

 

About the Author | Josh Schaidt
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I love cookies and I still buy music one album at a time. @EmptyChurch is one way I live empty, talk faith, and opt in to follow Jesus.

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