“Strong Enough,” by Apocalyptica

“Strong Enough”, by Apocalyptica featuring Brent Smith on 7th Symphony

Cellos and heavy metal? Yep, that’s Apocalyptica . At first, many thought Apocalyptica was meant to be a parody of metal music. But, well, they rock – and they’ve got some great singers to sing with them, especially on the last album 7th Symphony. On this track, Brent Smith from Shinedown – another of my favorite hard rock groups, lends his vocals to the band.

There a lot to comment on regarding these song lyrics – several themes that strike me as very true.

First,  this song reminds me of the important admonition from Proverbs 4:23, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (ESV).  The word ‘keep’ here is much stronger than it sounds and has been translated in other versions ‘guard’ or ‘protect’. It is counsel my dad offered nearly weekly, especially as I entered into the those teen years and began allowing my heart to be romantically involved with girls. Protect your heart. Don’t let yourself get to the place where you sing, “There’s nothing I can do, My heart is chained to you, And I can’t get free, Look what this love’s done to me.” That doesn’t mean we should protect our hearts from getting hurt, but protect our loves from getting improperly ordered – of allowing a human relationship to the thing that most enthralls us and captivates us.

Second, this relationship described in this song is a mixture “between pleasure and the pain” and leaves the singer with a choice – stay through the pain to find the pleasure, or leave the pain behind and forfeit the pleasure. I think that’s true of ever relationship. The more intimate the relationship, the more pain will have to be endured. No one has hurt me more deeply than Lynn, and I know I’ve wounded her more deeply than any one else. We’re not proud of that, and we’ve sought forgiveness from each other, but I doubt we’re done hurting each other. We’re still sinners who sin against the ones we love. At the same time, however, I’ve never had more joy and delight in a relationship. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be, but is a testimony to the fall and how the curse effects everthing (see especially Gen 3:16).

Third, this song speaks of the dis-integrity of our beings in the fallen state. The word integrity comes from the same Latin root as integer and implies a wholeness of person. The main word used for integrity in the Hebrew Bible is tom. Interestingly, it can mean simplicity also. The ideas overlap significantly – a heart of integrity is one in where all the intentions of the heart are moving in the same direction. A man of integrity doesn’t compartmentalize his private and public lives, his heart and his actions, etc. He is simple. His heart is simple as God is simple, meaning not divided, not double-minded (see James 1:7-8). This song shows a person deeply divided, a person who is not whole – “I know it’s wrong and I know it’s right. Even if I try to win the fight, my heart would overrule my mind.”  We are all, this side of Christ’s return, fractured in our loyalties, divided between serving God wholeheartedly (simply and with integrity) and serving self. The Spirit, as he does his sanctifying work restores the image of God in us, bringing us back to that place of wholeness and integrity. We’ve got a long way to go, but we can pray with the Psalmist, “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Ps 86:11, ESV). Ultimately, this songs testimony to mans disintegration points us ahead to the eschaton when all things are made right the the fracturing effects of sin are undone.

Like so many songs, these lyrics give us great insight into the human heart apart from God – enslaved, fractured, hurting. Thank God that in Christ, “Everything sad is going to come untrue” (Sam Gamgee, Lord of the Rings, with some liberty).