How often do we cry out in the pain and anguish of our circumstances, hoping that He hears us?

”…He knows my name,
He knows my every thought,
He sees each tear that falls,
and hears me when I call,
He hears me when I call…”

This morning I woke up with these Paul Baloche lyrics ringing through my head. They are from the popular song called “He Knows My Name” – a song that we often hear on Christian radio or sing in our church services.

So many times, we fall into the trap of singing something so often that we can fail to actually hear and understand the power in the words that we are vocalizing. We can also fail to see the effect that a song has on our memories, thoughts and emotions. However, every once in a while… you get can get a jarring dose of reality!

It is no secret that I absolutely hate the song “Amazing Grace”.

Now, before you take in that huge suck of air, and spew something that is almost inferring that I have done or said something that is totally sacrilegious… let me explain.

For me, “Amazing Grace” is associated with death. Growing up in generations of Christian heritage, and as each elderly one passed away, it was played at their funerals. To a small child, the hymn that was usually played on some primitive old organ was hauntingly eerie and reminded me of someone scratching their nails on a blackboard – they both had the same effect.

Bagpipes, as matter of note, do the same thing. The combination of the two of them together? Please, don’t even go there! My forefathers would turn over in their graves if they knew how I felt!

Those closest to me, of course, know my aversion to this particular number and can’t help but stifle a giggle during the services. I of course, shoot them a dirty look, to signal my dislike for the piece. The counter-smirks and snickers are fired back quickly, and without hesitation, in deep response!

An accappella worship group that I sang with in my twenties, put the beloved stanzas to the tune of the “Jungle Song” to soften the blow for me one time….. and it didn’t help! One particular radio music channel used to play the jungle tune every morning at 7:30am as I was on my way to work – as a result, it would be stuck in my head, and I was humming the thing all day – as a result, I now have grown to detest both songs with a passion!

No doubt that sounds harsh, but do understand that I am not, in any way, refuting the power of the words contained in the song “Amazing Grace” at all. They are the author’s own penned stirrings of God’s grace in his own life.

Do I have a healthy respect for the heart behind the song? Absolutely…especially after doing a lot of research on the subject.

Here is a quick rundown, for those who are not familiar with the words of this particular piece: A rebellious youth with a filthy mouth, John Newton, (born 1725), was known to be a heavy drinker and to have fits of anger and rage. In his twenties, after a brief stint in the Royal Navy, he became slave collector in Africa, hunting them down, and holding them captive until they could be taken aboard ship. Being the actual captain of the vessel, he regularly sailed the route from Britain to Africa, then cross the Atlantic to America, where the slaves were to be sold. During the third voyage of the Greyhound, in 1748, on the way back home to England, the vessel was caught a very nasty storm off the coast of the Newfoundland. Leaving the deck during the violent tempest, a crewman had taken over his post. The crewman was swept overboard in the plight, and in his fear, he recognized that he was spared, for that moment at least, he cried out for God’s mercy over his own life, and the lives of his crew, for the balance of his  stormy journey! Upon setting their feet on good old terra-firma in Ireland, Newton later wrote: “…I began to know that there is a God who hears every prayer.” Previously unconvicted in his spiritual walk, he began a whole new walk of faith; however, he still wasn’t quite ready to give up selling slaves. Ironically though, he required his crew to pray, and ordered them to start treating slaves as people, with compassion. Finally, in 1754, he got out of the whole slave-selling enterprise. It wasn’t necessarily conviction that changed his course of direction, but the stroke he had taken. That and the fact that he missed his wife and daughter back home in England. He then took a job as a customs officer in Liverpool, England. His letters of his conversion to Christ so impacted the previous pastor, he gave him the church to look after. Around the age of 39 in June 1774, became an ordained minister or what is known in the English church as a “rector”. William Cowper was a poet with major mental issues, known to be erratic in his own behaviour, but the two of them struck up a friendship and began writing songs together. Based on 1 Chronicles 17:16-17, Amazing Grace was written in 1779, and probably is one of the most famous hymns or songs ever written.

It was the penned heart of two men expressing their thanks for His provision of grace. I totally get that, but I still don’t like what the song association means to me!

My point? God heard John Newton when he cried out to him on that ship, no matter where his heart was in that moment…and God listened because He says He will. He confirms it again and again in His Word:

“For Jehovah hears the cry of His needy ones, and does not look the other way.” (Psalm 69:33)

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” (Psalms 50:15 NKJV)

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. {15} He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. {16} With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psalms 91:14-16 NKJV)

“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. {19} He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. {20} The LORD preserves all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.” (Psalms 145:18-20 NKJV)

“The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17 NKJV)

“Listen now! The Lord isn’t too weak to save you. And He isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call.” (Isaiah 59:1)

“It shall come to pass, That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24 NKJV)

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. {12} Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. {13} And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)

“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. {29} And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. {30} “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. {31} The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. {32} And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:28-32 NKJV)

“Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7 NKJV)

“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. {11} For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” {12} For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. {13} For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:10-13 NKJV)

There is enough confirmation in His Word to certainly assure us tht He hears us at all times; whether it is in the battles and storms of life, or the everyday moments.

Like a mother who never fails to hear her child in middle of the night, He is already waiting to take you and scoop you up from within the darkness, into a place of comfort and safety. It is just that simple.

And, like a Father who runs to His children when they cry out in their distress, He hears us and He rescues us, no matter the size of the waves we may face – be it a nation, an army, a giant, one who stands in opposition, a circumstance, or an overactive imagination.

Yes, indeed, a parent instinctively recognizes and hears their child’s voice at all times, but even more, does our Heavenly, Abba, Father….

He knows our name. He hears us when we call.

© 2008 Brenda Crowe. All rights reserved.

Originally published on November 12, 2008