This poem's title is given without punctuation, because it can ambiguously be interpreted as a question or as a declarative statement. But read it for yourself and decide. It has a couple of distinct "motions," in which it addresses a person's private emotional pain and challenges you not to exaggerate how bad things are, and to not be naive and think that you're all alone. Moreover, it encourages you to have open lines of communication with the people around you so that they can help you and you won't suffer alone. Then the poem moves on to say that despite this, people can't always fix your problems for you. So how can you move on and leave the agony behind? The solution I give in this poem is to offer a change of perspective, and I hope that I managed to make it convincing, all while fitting the words into a complex rhyme scheme.
A note: the poem has 6 sets of four stanzas, where the first two are supposed to be read more slowly, and the second two are of a faster tempo. It would have potential to be a song, if it wasn't so enormously long! :)
If I asked you, face to face, if life is good, if life is great
or if it’s empty, full of hate, and you wish you could just escape
would you answer truthfully?
or would the things you say to me
be self-serving lies?
If the life you now are living isn’t quite your heart’s desire
can you seek and find contentment, or do you want to set fire
to the things that irk you?
Did your friends desert you?
Have you wished to die?
Life, my friend, is not a zero-sum game
You get more out than what you put in
You might be surprised, but this life is the same
for the rest of us more than you think
Believe it or not, but you’re not the first one
to encounter a soul-crushing pain
As it was with your fathers, it shall be with your sons
Your story will be told again
You are not alone, you see, for others also suffer—
Uncles, friends, grandparents, siblings, fathers, aunts and mothers—
quietly, in agony.
You should not expect to see
what they’re going through.
Sympathy is what we gain when other people know our pain
but if they can’t get through to you, ‘midst all this constant, driving rain
that you pour out in angry shouts,
mumbles, grumbles, curses, bouts…
how can they help you?
Open your mouth and talk it out
Be honest and don’t exaggerate
People are ready to listen now
Don’t be a fool and choose to wait
Keeping it in doesn’t help anyone
Shouting and running is hurting you, son
I know that it sure must hurt a ton
but if you don’t quit it’ll never be done
Even if you find a friend, your hurt may seize you yet again
pierce your heart and make you fret, wondering “why won’t it end?”
And that’s because a helping hand
is not sufficient for a man
to overcome all things.
You are finite, don’t you know? That’s why you aren’t in control.
Your heart and mind and strength and soul are designated for a role
Which isn’t in your choice to choose.
But listen now, and hear the News—
the promise that He brings.
What’s wrong with you is what’s wrong with us all
It’s also the answer to why there is evil
It’s something our ancestors knew as the Fall
We foolishly trusted in mankind’s Deceiver
God gave us freedom to choose what is right
Choice is required in order to love
Instead of submitting, we all chose to fight
returning no love to our Father above
A life without God is what we all desired, and now we have all had a taste
Without God our lives are disastrously mired in suffering and weakness—it’s all such a waste!
Without God we would not exist
Neither would the pleasant bliss
we sometimes do enjoy
Perspective matters, and when you have seen that you are guilty, too
then there’s only one avenue to contemplate advancing through
And that’s to ask forgiveness
for your evil illness
from Father’s pride and joy.
What do you think was the reason He died?
It wasn’t just an emotive display
of how your Creator feels toward His child
He died for your debt to be paid
Your life isn’t perfect, so perfect men find
to offer their lives in your stead
If that can’t be done then you’re quite in a bind
The Judge will require your head
The thing you must realize, despite all your pain, ‘s that you don’t deserve any better
You’ve rejected all good things, and though it seems strange, you’re infinitely a debtor
Bad things happen for a reason
in and out of sundry seasons
How can you escape it?
A perfect man, with perfect life, can trade his in for yours tonight
But none such men can e’er be found, and that has long been mankind’s plight
How can we attain to heaven?
Even though we try forever
most of us mistake it
God became man so that He could die,
remained God so that He was perfect
and willingly died in the place of mankind
because only Jesus can earn it
Like all transactions, this one goes two ways
The offer’s been made but you must cash it in
God has decided to patiently wait
For as many as choose to, be freely forgiv’n
Choice’s the thing that makes us human, it’s our grandest gift and greatest curse
Our choices are what made us lose Him, His choice and ours can sin disperse
And when the burden lifts away,
our temporary struggles pale
What’s wrong is more encompassing than little troubles all around
When you know the source of sin, th’ solution seems so easy found!
Death and pain will be displaced
We’ll one day, joining angels, praise
God in unison
Take heart, little brother, there’s a positive ending
to your story of grief, guilt, and shame
Let go of your anger, commence your heart’s rending
and bow down your head to the Name
I cannot promise that pain won’t continue—
in fact, the reverse is the truth—
but God takes the sting away when He walks with you
His Love is what I want for you.