Remember when Kobe died, and we all thought 2020 couldn’t possibly get any worse?

Evidently, 2020 was just getting started.

And if all that comes with a global pandemic, racial unrest and a presidential election year wasn’t enough for you, many of us have had painful personal experiences. In those times, I want music that resonates with my pain but also points me a greater hope.

And 2020 feels like the perfect time to share that list.

  1. God is Good by Jonathan McReynolds. This song has a beautiful melody and a simple message. “May your struggles keep you near the cross. May your troubles show that you need God. May your battles end the way they should. May your bad days prove that God is good.”

2. Save Me by Derek Minor. “Are You mad at me? Do You hate me? Are these tribulations just to break me? Man, this can’t be the reason you made me. I’m going crazy. Won’t you save me?” Imagine the Old Testament book of Lamentations over a hip-hop beat and you have Derek Minor’s Save Me. There’s an expression with authors that if you cry when you write it, they’ll cry when the read it. It’s easy to tell this song came from a broken place, yet not a hopeless place.

3. He Will Hold Me Fast by Norton Hall Band. “When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast. When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.” Shout out to the big homey John Richards Jr. for putting me on to this song. It’s my favorite hymn. I listen to this song almost every day, but definitely on tough days.

4. Mercy Music by Timothy Brindle. This song is so theologically rich and comforting. It’s my go-to song when the reason for my dark day is direct result of my own sin. It’s the reminder that we all need that God is still for us.

5. Trust in Me Now by Anthony Evans. This song just feels like your best friend putting his arm around you and saying “I know. I’ve been there. God will see you through.”

6. My Joy – JSon. The whole Growing Pains album is made for people going through a tough time. This song masterfully captures how we feel when we suffer but then also invites us to remember what Christ suffered on our behalf. I love the chorus: “momentary affliction preparing me for eternal glory.”

7. Can’t Give Up Now – Mary Mary. This might be the catchiest song on the list, and there’s one lyric in this song I need to be reminded of again and again. “Nobody told the road would be easy, and I don’t believe He’s brought this far to leave me.”

8. Through it All – Andrae Crouch. I grew in a home where gospel music played most mornings, but especially Sunday. I’ll never forget my sisters’ matching church outfits and the smell of the hot comb. Many of the songs started with a testimony before the song, and my list would be incomplete without one of those throwbacks. I like the Through It All album version in iTunes a little better, but I love the testimony part of this version.

9. Maranatha – Flame. God promises to never leave us or forsake us, but that doesn’t mean Joseph, Job, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Jeremiah, Esther, Peter and many others didn’t question that in the biblical account. Flame illustrates this perfectly here, and ultimately points the Christian back to his or her eternal hope.

10. Take Me To the KingTamela Mann. This is the soul cry of someone who has come to the end of herself and knows Jesus is her only hope.

Bonus songs.

Everything Right by Dee Wilson … Dee Wilson is one of my three favorite artists, and this one line in the song refreshes my soul every time I hear it: “the very same grace that bought me …. it’s the very same grace that will hold me in place.”

Please Don’t Pass me By – Fred Hammond. In this song, the legendary gospel singer pictures himself as needy as the blind man on the road side calling out to Jesus. It’s a desperation our prayer lives need all the time, but especially during tough times.

So that’s my list.

What about you?

What songs would you add to the list?