If the World Was How it Should Be, Maybe I Could Get Some Sleep

A couple years ago, Jars of Clay wrote a song called “Oh My God” on their Good Monsters album.  It’s truly one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard or read (it’s good without hearing the music).  I’ve been reflecting on this song for the past few months and I can’t seem to escape the deep, heartfelt, and even eerie mood the song exudes.  The song is about the phrase “Oh My God.”  People of all backgrounds, races, religions, and creeds use it.  For some, it’s a praise, a curse, a plea for help.  For others, it’s a question, a knee-jerk reaction, a response to pain. 

The song doesn’t have a chorus.  There aren’t really “verses” either.  It’s a poetic rant of the world’s problems.  Dan Haseltine, Jars’ lead singer, was interviewed about the album and specifically this song.  “[The phrase] means so many different things and it’s used in so many different contexts,” he said, “but in the end, it means that at some point in every person’s life, they have to confront whether or not God is real.”  Who says “Oh My God”?

Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say

Haseltine said that he had things like McDonald’s and the lottery in his mind when the song was written.  “Those things play a weird role in the story of mankind of working out his salvation and his place in the world. And those are the kind of things that cause me to kind of have these little crisis moments.”

What kind of a world is this that there is poverty, war, genocide, and…McDonald’s?  Good question.  There is killing going on in the world, all the while Americans ask, “Lord, can I please have a raise? a better car? a bigger house?”  Jars of Clay spent some time in Rwanda before the song was written and genocide was taking place in a church of 5,000 people.  Haseltine says that those people weren’t praying for a nice car or more land, but to be delivered from death from their neighbors.  “[That] causes a bit of a crisis of faith, and at the same time, it also makes me realize there has to be a God, because my own sense of justice does not have a context for this. ”

Someone has to be in control of a world with so much hatred, violence, disease, hunger, and hundreds of other problems.  God has a greater sense of justice and in his time, he will reconcile the world to himself.  Even now, it is being reconciled to himself.  My heart is to be broken and contrite over this world that is so lost and lonely.  The only solution for the world’s problems is Jesus.  My heart is to have such an empathy for the people of this world that I lose sleep for those who don’t know Jesus. 

Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be,
Maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we’re better,
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent
Falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded
That the pain is worth the plunder

Sometimes when I lose my grip,
I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give in
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat
All the wounds that money causes
All the comforts of cathedrals

All the cries of thirsty children – this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers – this is our greatest offense

Oh my God

“For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3).