Times are hard. I don't need to tell you that. When the tough gets going, I lean on some old reliable songs. One of them is "Be Not So Fearful," by 70s Brit singer-songwriter Bill Fay.
It's a secular version of Jesus' admonition "be not afraid." Those words still stir the souls of those of us who grew up in the faith who have become doubting Thomases. In this cruel, broken world we cry out for comfort. God may not be paying attention, but music still does.
Fay is not a great singer, but that makes the song. His limited voice is a human voice. You believe it. The orchestration gives the song a kind of grandeur befitting the significance of the statement "be not so fearful."
I heard this song once, in all places, of the NICU when my children were born prematurely. I spent the first week of their lives in a constant state of worry, about them and about my wife. I felt helpless, unable to be with them. When it came on the PA in the ward as I was leaving for the day to go back home I burst into tears and had an ugly cry.
The message touched me, but also the fact that I had used this song to survive the years of temporary academic labor and uncertainty. (A friend introduced it to me as I was leaving grad school.) How on earth had this obscure song found its way onto the hospital muzak playlist? It wasn't a divine intervention, but it felt like it.
We frail creatures stuck on this earth are being put to the test. Every single day is a struggle, and I can feel the strain. To my fellow travelers in this wretched place I am thinking of you tonight, and giving you this song.