When I was in my twenties playing percussion in a road show, our lead singer performed “You Gave Me A Mountain.” The singer delivered that tune in a powerful manner that broughta tears to the eye and a hefty round of applause, if not a standing ovation. The song moved people. It moved me. I could not imagine the pain that went into composing the lyrics of the song.
Recorded by many vocalists, “You Gave Me A Mountain” was written by Marty Robbins in the 1960’s. The lyrics describe troubles the singer had overcome during his lifetime, from his mother’s death to his father’s bitterness over her loss, to his own wife leaving him and taking their baby boy. Described as “hills,” the singer is now facing something beyond what he thinks he can endure. “This time You gave me a mountain,” he says to God, “a mountain that I may never climb.” As I sat night after night accompanying our lead man as he delivered this song, I wondered what that “mountain” could have been.
Today was a painful day for me, my arthritis taking its toll on my mind, body and spirit. As I lay quietly trying to will the pain to abate, I thought of this song once again. It suddenly became clear to me that perhaps the singer wasn’t anticipating a life-threatening event, or even an emotional trauma such as the ones he had already experienced. Perhaps the “mountain” was simply “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” that one-more-thing that made everything he had endured suddenly unendurable. Those of us who live with chronic pain—physical or emotional—have all been through times when we think our pain cannot get any worse. But when it does, it is a blessing to know that God will hold us in our aloneness and our fear. He will say, “Do not fear, I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13). He promises us, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm” (Psalm 75:3). He walks with us through the valley. With God, we can face our mountains.
Healing Lord, be with us in the nighttime of our pain and also when joy comes in the morning. Amen