Broken Hallelujah

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

 Psalm 42 [NIV]

I’m sitting here with my Bible open before me, its pages wet and wrinkled from a seemingly endless flow of tears.  I hear the ticking of the clock on the wall next to me and it reminds me of the steady passage of time, and yet time seems to stand still for us in so many ways.  One hundred and thirty one days ago Sarah left, that’s almost nineteen weeks without my child.  My heart aches with the same intensity it did that very first day, I miss her desperately.  While we as a family do find joy in each day, my pillow is still wet with tears of longing and pain most nights, if not every night.  I’ve said it many times, but will say again how much I miss the sound of her singing filling our home.  Sarah had a song in her heart that constantly overflowed and brought such joy to our home.  Missing Sarah’s constant singing has prompted me to think a lot about the importance of our songs.

The four month anniversary of her death was two Sundays ago.  It was an exceptionally raw day for Scott, the girls and me.  In our church service that morning as we worshipped we sang a song that had “holy, holy, holy” in it.  In that moment I could clearly see Sarah before the throne of God singing and worshipping with all of her heart, it took my breath away and prompted a flood of tears.  After that we sang of falling down and laying our crowns at the feet of Jesus, and I thought how excited she must have been to do just that, I could envision her face glowing and eyes sparkling with joy as she set her crown before Him.  I celebrate for her, God graciously set a passionate longing for His presence and heaven in her heart and then He fulfilled it.  Her faith has become sight and I am confident she is rejoicing and praising Him with the song of her heart at this very moment.

Both Scott and I long for the day when we, like Sarah, stand before Him singing “holy, holy, holy,” but for now we instead stand here, so very far away, with shattered hearts in our hands.  We cry out with the voice of the Psalmist in Psalm 42, our tears have been our food day and night, our souls are in despair and are poured out within us as breakers and waves have swept over us.  In the midst of the pain He is so faithful, though.  Like the Psalmist we acknowledge that He commands His lovingkindness toward us in so many ways, he pours out grace and mercy upon grace and mercy in His dealings with us.  Each day He has been faithful to put a song in and on our hearts to sustain us and minister to us, as well as to offer praise back to Him.  Sometimes the same song resonates over and over again for a week or even weeks, and sometimes a song for just one day, but each and every day our hearts lift a song to Him.

As I was meditating on Psalm 42, I was struck by verse 8, “and His song will be with me in the night” [NASB].   As I read that I was immediately reminded of Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” [ESV].  I wonder if this is what the Psalmist had in mind as He was inspired to write of God’s song being with us in the night.  Nighttime is the worst for this shattered heart, in the still of the night I feel the pain with each pulse.  Perhaps in the darkest moments of the night He is singing over me, singing for me, when I am too shattered to lift my voice.   Perhaps the reason I am able to rise in the morning is because He has quieted me with His love in those moments, as He alone can.

Perhaps in the shattering of our hearts He has given us a more beautiful song to sing.  Perhaps the brokenness that our hallelujah flows from makes it even more fragrant to Him.  In the hours I frantically drove to Atlanta on June 8th, I sang “Even If” by MercyMe, over and over again.  In those hours I pleaded with Him to move the mountain and not let Sarah be taken from us, but He did not.  Even so, like the lyrics of that song, and like Sarah wrote in her journal (below), I proclaim again though He did not move the mountain I longed for Him to move, I will praise Him still.  I will trust Him to give me a new song, like the Psalmist, knowing that my Hope is in Him alone, and I will yet praise Him.

After Sarah left we found this recording of her singing “Hallelujah” on her iPod.  She knew it was a secular song, but she loved the fact that even as a secular song it reflected the beauty of people in brokenness singing “Hallelujah,” Praise the Lord.  So today I am singing with her, lifting high my broken heart and broken hallelujah as a fragrant offering to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Sarah Harmening singing “Hallelujah”: 


Psalm 42:1-5 ❤ – this is a great example of how God won’t always move mountains when we ask him to and through that, we should still praise God

~ Sarah Harmening


15 thoughts on “Broken Hallelujah

  1. Broken Hallelujah – Mandisa

    When all I can sing is a broken hallelujah,
    when my only offering is shattered praise,
    Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ruins
    and I will worship you and give you thanks,
    Even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah

  2. I love that you have that treasure of hearing her sing, thankful for technology that saves, records. I still praying for your family often. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and words with us. BLESSINGS

  3. Thank you, Karen, for sharing this song. I have yearned to hear this again. It has been in my head since the first time I heard her sing it. Thank you for sharing this precious voice so all could hear. I know she is singing loudly in heaven. Praying consistently.

  4. Such a beautiful voice and soul. I pray that you are brought comfort by that gift. Thank you for sharing your pain ,joy and journey with so many…

  5. How good is our God ! He has blessed you with so many things that Sarah left behind for you to cherish. I loved the song and to get to hear her voice, Your family is amazing and I wish I had known Sarah I too know that Sarah is singing praises to her Lord. ( I’m April Holbert’s mom.) May God’s comfort surround your family.

  6. Continuing to pray for your precious family daily. Thank you for sharing your heart. Sarah’s singing is beautiful.

  7. Continuing to pray for you and your family, Karen. Thank you for your blog today. I’m reading it on October 18th, the two year anniversary of the home going of our seven and one-half years and eleven day old grandson, Xander. We were blessed to have him more than five years after the doctors all said he would be with us. Can’t think of more to say. I understand the blur of hours, days, weeks, and months experienced as a grandmother, but what you and my daughter have faced is truly beyond my comprehension. I told her this morning I cannot imagine anything more painful than the loss of a child. She responded, “The loss of another child.” That prefaced the fact that my oldest grandson in the Navy has a viral infection and a high fever presently. The fact that he is in the Navy and they will have sea trials soon brings the reality home pretty instantly. God bless all mothers in such realities and God bless you and your family dealing with the loss of your darling daughter, Sarah. God bless each of you as you rise daily to face another day. Broken hallelujahs. Broken and stifled hallelujahs, but hallelujahs for the joys we have been given.

  8. Wow- Sarah’s voice is exactly what this world needs so much more of- purity, devotion & genuine pursuit of the heart of God. Still praying for all of those left behind.🙏🏻💖

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s