Joyner Lucas is a gifted lyricist and rapper. Like most memorable songwriters, his music mixes autobiography, story, and cultural commentary. He was nominated for a Grammy for his 2018 song “I’m Not Racist,” originally released on his YouTube channel and quickly going viral. Shortly after, Joyner collaborated on a song for Eminem’s tenth album. His videos have millions of views.
In 2020, he released the song “Devil’s Work” which laments the loss of well-known leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and celebrities like 2Pac. It begins with the line, “Father, forgive me. I’m staring at this Bible as I keep glancing. Dear Lord, I got questions and I need answers.” The lyrics give an honest depiction of the questions we all face when trying to reconcile belief in a loving God with the realities of a fallen world. Joyner writes:
Drownin’ in my tears, tryna pray for somethingWonder why you give us life for you to take it from us Wonder why you give us family then erase them from us Maybe hopefully you can have a conversation with us Maybe I’m just probably tripping ’cause I need a hug The hood can’t find jobs, now we need a plug Everybody and their mama tryna be a thug I don’t go to church ’cause I’m afraid of being judged
In March 2023, Joyner released a follow up. “Devil’s Work 2” carries the same theme with a focus on leaders like Kobe Bryant who died since the first release. Both songs end in a similar way, expressing frustration and doubt, yet holding out hope and trust in God:
Beggin’ for your guidance on this ghetto earthFrustrated, tryna understand how heaven works I’m just hopin’ you could pull a couple strings Or redo a couple things so maybe we could get a second turn You took Juice from us, that forever hurts But puttin’ the blame on you, that’ll never work I know this ain’t your fault, it’s the devil’s work
Before you rush to YouTube to listen to Lucas’s music, a disclaimer regarding explicit language is in order. Yet, I will say these two songs “Devil’s Work” and “Devil’s Work 2” have some of the most theological pointed lines I’ve heard from a secular artist in recent history. They offer an honest response to evil juxtaposed with rugged hope in God. They have a lot in common with many of the Psalms.
As we head into Holy Week, we remember the resurrection of Jesus is God’s answer to the Devil’s work. Easter is the genesis of the new creation. It’s the beginning of the reversal of the curse of sin. But yet we all still live in this real world with real pain. As Joyner writes:
I don’t mean to question you, I’m just confusedI don’t know what else to do I’ve been patient and it sucks waiting Took my mans from me, that forever hurts But puttin’ the blame on you, that’d never work I know this ain’t your fault, it’s the devil’s work
While we wait, we remember and we hope. Easter tells us we won’t wait forever. An empty tomb in Jerusalem reminds us the Devil’s work won’t win out in the end, and it won’t last forever. The risen Son of God will return to finish what he started.