In his book, Worship Seeking Understanding, John Witvliet cites a worship leaders who spoke of weekly congregational singing as “rehearsing the congregation for a future funeral.” Witvliet comments: “What if we planned our music with this as a primary goal? ‘Musician, why did you choose that piece of music?’ ‘Well, it fit the texts of the day, it was well crafted, it challenged us musically—but mostly I picked it because you’ll need to know that piece when your family is preparing to bury a loved one.”

This made me want to ask a few godly leaders I trust and respect for one song that they would like to have played at their funeral.

Joni Eareckson Tada is up first in the series. Here is her response:

Okay, if we’re not talking about hymns like “For All the Saints” or “Thine Be the Glory,” then I’d ask Laura Story to take a break from her busy schedule and come sing her anthem, “Blessings.”

I first heard it over a decade ago when I was still new at dealing with intractable pain.

I was sitting backstage at a disability conference, watching an interpreter sign the song for those who were Deaf. I was struck by her hand signs for the lyrics, “When darkness seems to win, we know that pain reminds our heart that this is not, this is not our home.”

Forgetting that I was moments from speaking, a reservoir of tears spilled over and I began sobbing—regrettably, I’d been nursing the thought that God was asking too much of me—agonizing pain on top of quadriplegia. This simple song put an end to that.

So, at my funeral, I want people to experience what I did that day, that their hardest trials are really their mercies in disguise. They are mercies because they force us into the arms of Jesus where, otherwise, we might not be inclined to go. When we see trials that way, our unruly hearts learn that this world is, in no way, our home.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Blessings lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group