Kenneth Samuel: Music and Misery

"I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul." - Job 10:1 

A woman seeking relief from the stresses of life went to see a highly esteemed therapist. Upon collapsing into a chair in the therapist's office, she exclaimed: "I feel absolutely awful!" "Very good," the therapist replied. "Can we stay with that feeling?" 

Most psychotherapists and pastoral care advisors would agree that the most daunting aspect of counseling is getting persons to actually identify and name the source of their distresses. Uncovering the root causes of our emotional and psychological pain requires us to go places that we'd rather avoid and stay much longer than we usually intend. 

The high notes of life have so much more appeal and applause than the low notes. And yet, none of our most enduring melodies and symphonies can be supported and sustained by the high notes alone. 

Real life is not just about our "mounting up on wings like an eagle." Real life is also about our trek through valleys filled with shadows of death. 

Many of us find great inspiration in the book of Job. We especially like how God restored Job's life in double measure at the end. But we should not overlook the fact that about 41 chapters of Job's 42-chapter book have to do with Job's deep losses, regret, guilt, anger and questioning of the Divine in the face of Job's faithful but inexplicable suffering. 

In the Black Church we often say: "You may see my glory, but you don't know my story." The story often speaks of misery, but it is only bad if it is never told. 


God, we are your instruments. Use the misery that we own and express to make music. Amen.

From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit