When the hurt and healer collide, glory meets suffering.
The Hurt & the Healer
Label: Fairtrade Services
Length: 10 tracks/39:19 minutes
MercyMe’s The Hurt & the Healer recognizes the inadequacy of, “Why? / The question that is never far away / The healing doesn’t come from the explained.” These songs point to the comfort and hope found where “glory meets my suffering.”
Getting there is beautifully depicted on the cover. A half-dead lone tree stands in an amber field. The blue sky background rises to a host of celestial lights, a portal into heaven. It’s a thin veil that separates. Even in the death side of becoming conformed to His image, God may be more in control than we realize. As the chorus to the title track puts it, “I’m alive / Even though a part of me has died / You take my heart and breathe it back to life / I’ve fallen into your arms open wide / When the hurt and the healer collide.”
Our failures are more than swallowed-up by the grace of God. The hard driving “You Don’t Care At All” expresses it like this: “All of my yesterdays / All of my past mistakes / You’ve thrown them all away / You don’t care at all.” It is a reversal of Pharoah’s dream as interpreted by Joseph in the book of Genesis. Instead of the years of plenty being swallowed-up by the years of famine; the years of lack, however great, are more than offset by receiving the abundance that comes through Christ’s death on the cross.
It’s a new beginning, characterized by greater depth, which is depicted in the one piano-driven ballad, “The First Time,” which closes the recording.
One of the most interesting songs is “Take the Time,” a duet with Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE. It’s dominated by a bluesy slide guitar until the band cranks it up at the end. I would have appreciated more like this, which is a little outside the norm. “Shallow is the voice of no concern,” Rinehart sings. “Running through the bridges that we burn … You do it to the least of these / You do it to me / You gotta take the time.” It’s too easy to look the other way and not see people.
“Hold On” is a guilty pop pleasure. It may be simple but it is excellent song craft. Why can’t more music today sound this good?
Another favorite for its encouragement and spacey atmospheric background is “Don’t Give up on Me.”
Lead singer Bart Millard is in fine form but he also gets an excellent assist from group background vocals scattered throughout. There are also brief but wild guitar solos that fit perfectly. I like the slightly raw, uncluttered production courtesy of veteran producer Brown Bannister and Dan Muckula.
Need encouragement? Find it here.