Not so long ago, if you turned on a local radio station in Dothan, Alabama, the music that came up was Gospel. You might hear The Blackwood Brothers, or the Blind Boys of Alabama. You might hear Mahalia Jackson or even Elvis Presley, but all of them were singing about the presence of God in our world.
Many times the songs were a sort of reaching up out of pain, and there was no question that God would reach back. For example, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” verse Three:
Whenever I am tempted, Whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, When hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, From care He sets me free: His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.
Today’s world often seems filled with pain and sorrow. We all recognize it, and at times personally feel it, but after pain and sorrow hit us, do we feel as safe as that old gospel song says we should? Do we reach up in order for God to reach back?
Sometimes, when tragedy or disappointment strikes, all we want to do is crawl in a hole and stay there. And personally, I think that’s fine for a while. We have to get used to loss, or disillusionment, or whatever it is that has dented our life. But we can’t stay there forever.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.–Matthew 11:28
We have to climb out of the hole and look up to realize we are loved, and that we will always be loved by God. And what that realization can do for us is truly amazing.
The Blind Boys of Alabama are a five-time Grammy Award-winning gospel group who first sang together in 1939. The Blind Boys have toured for seven decades, and created an extensive discography. In 2016 the on-stage configuration of the group consists of eight people: four blind singers—Jimmy Carter, Ben Moore, Eric “Ricky” McKinnie, Paul Beasley – guitarist and musical director Joey Williams, and a keyboard player, a bass player, and a drummer. They sing mainly spiritually uplifting songs, as well as giving encouragement to those with disabilities. In the words of one of the group’s blind members, Ricky Mckinnie: “Our disability doesn’t have to be a handicap. It’s not about what you can’t do. It’s about what you do. And what we do is sing good gospel music.”