Stressed Out

I have always loved music.  I love everything from Fleetwood Mac to Five Finger Death Punch, from Frydyrick Chopin to Flo Rida and Florida Georgia Line.  Music to me is a form of expression, but also a form of encouragement, exhortation, and enlightenment.  Music can also be a great barometer for gauging the moods and attitudes of a culture. The famous 17th Century Scottish writer/patriot Andrew Fletcher noted this reality when he said,  

“I knew a very wise man that believed if a man were permitted to make all the ballads he need not care who should make the laws of a nation, and we find that most of the ancient legislators thought that they could not well reform the manners of any city without the help of a lyric, and sometimes of a dramatic poet.”

Over time this quote was simplified to say, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.

My love of music and its impact on our lives has surfaced some very interesting dialogues with my children concerning the “value” of some of today’s modern lyrics.  So many of today’s lyrics seem excessively and obsessively simplistic, shallow, and trite. Yet there is one song that is extremely perceptive in many ways.

The song I am referring to is “Stressed Out” by 21 Pilots (you can see the video here), and there’s one lyric that stands out to me:

My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

What strikes me about this lyric is its honesty, but also its obvious lament.  The artist recognizes that there was a day when things were simple and full of care and love but now things in his life (indeed all our lives) are much more complex, leading us to being “stressed out”.

Perhaps this lyric has touched me recently because I was involved in a conference at our church entitled, “A Light in the Darkness: Breaking the Silence of Depression”.  For a full five days we waded out into the heavy, murky waters of this serious struggle with anxiety and depression.  As a leader, pastor, friend (and human for that matter) I have been confronted with the very real and oppressive struggle that we all have with depression and anxiety.  21 Pilot’s song was another reminder that this struggle of being “stressed out” truly is a human struggle; all people deal with it.  Whether you deal with anxiety or depression personally, or you have friends and family who struggle, this issues touches all of us at some level.

As I have reflected on and engaged with the “fruit” from this conference, as well as the lyrics of this 21 Pilots song, I have been reminded of yet a greater reality: that there is coming a day when a “new song” will be the anthem of a new culture. In fact, the great rock band U2 sang about this in their famous ballad, “40” (you can see that video here).  The lyric Bono is singing here at the Red Rocks venue was actually penned by God’s servant David in Psalm 40: “I will sing a NEW SONG.”  The culmination of this new culture that will be singing a “new song” can be found in Revelation 5:9-14 which says, 

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”  And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

(For a powerful rendition of a song containing the above lyric check out this performance from the Red Rocks venue.)

So from 21 Pilots to Bono to Chris Tomlin, we see that music truly is a powerful expression of the mood of a culture. I am so thankful that the lament lyric of 21 Pilots will not be the final song, but that the “new song” of that heavenly nation will be the final expression that rings throughout all eternity!

If you would like to hear the content from our church’s conference on Depression, click here for a link to the audio recordings

Will Witherington