A couple weeks ago I went to hear the Alabama Symphony Orchestra with a friend. I can’t believe I’d never heard them before! They featured pieces by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev (which reminded me of The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet) and world-class violinist Tai Murray. I’m grateful for talented people who share their timeless gifts with the world.

During the performance, I was honestly getting a little sleepy. It’d been a long day (…and week…and month…and year). Then all of a sudden, the pianist struck a dissonant chord that snapped me back to attention. You’ve heard these chords, whether you know the term or not.

“An unstable tone combination is a dissonance; its tension demands an onward motion to a stable chord. Thus dissonant chords are ‘active’; traditionally they have been considered harsh and have expressed pain, grief, and conflict.”

—Roger Kamien (2008)

As parts of my piano training and music theory knowledge crept back, I began to think about dissonance and how the term is easily applied to everyday life.

Dissonant chords, put simply, don’t sound right. The notes making up the chord crunch and sound painful, even to the most tone deaf. But the crunch makes the following resolve so sweet.

Scripture tells us that we will know trials, pain, and grief. John 16:33 says ,”…In the world you will have tribulation…” Not you might, there’s a chance you will, may experience. You will. The Greek word for tribulation can also translate to compression, affliction, and distress of mind.

We all experience times like this. When I’m in the midst of one of these seasons, I feel like it’s going to last forever and throw myself some fantastic pity parties in the midst of it all. I easily forget the next part of John 16:33: “…But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Why do we worry and fret as soon as things get a little tough or things aren’t going exactly how we want them to? How do we so easily and quickly forget the Gospel? We’re promised that there will be trials, but we must not forget The Promise.

In life, we will have dissonant moments that don’t sound right. Moments that hurt our hearts much like a dissonant chord hurts our ears. However, there is a resolve; it’s not going to last forever.

For me, I know that I need to have an eternal mindset. I need to not get stuck in not-so-wonderful moments and remember that Jesus has already overcome that. He’s already won. Regardless of how many dissonant chords our life songs tend to have, we can rest assured that the overall tone is a sweet, sweet melody.


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