I think we can all agree that this is a strange time that we are living in. A lot of us are stuck in our homes trying to do our work from there, fighting off extreme boredom, or trying to wrangle kids, while others are going to work every day trying to keep us safe and provide for our needs.
We are not sure when this crisis will end or how much worse it will get before it does. So much uncertainty can cause us to start to question God about what He is doing and perhaps even about whether He cares about what we are going through.
A month or two ago before things escalated, in church we sang the song, ‘Great is thy faithfulness. I love this song, I love these words.
“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”
In some sense these words could be in direct opposition to our current situation. However, I think that these words could be the most relevant thing that we could possibly hear right now.
In times like these we can hear these words and sort of do a double take in disbelief. When nothing is certain and fear has left you trembling, these lyrics need time to sink themselves down into your soul.
This song declares that God is faithful, that He never changes, and that He is ever full of compassion.
So how does that fit into our current situation? What does God’s faithfulness look like when we can’t see it in our lives or the lives of those we love? Where is His faithfulness to the most vulnerable? Or to those who have lost jobs or family members?
At first it can really hurt to sing of God’s faithfulness while at the same time feeling pain, confusion and fear. The first emotion might even be anger as we sing of God’s faithfulness while at the same time wondering just exactly where that faithfulness is.
“Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided- Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”
These new mercies might not be the specific mercies that we are asking for but they are mercies all the same.
For the past month and a half, I have woken up every morning, sat on my couch in sweatpants and a professional shirt and spent the day virtually helping clients deal with their fear, anxiety, depression, grief and more. It can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and question where God is when hearing from so many people who are suffering. But then I take a break in between clients and I see my health care worker friends going to work every day putting themselves at risk to help others. I see friends going to work at grocery stores, volunteering at food pantries, donating blood, dropping off groceries.
Some of those mercies I see is the church being the hands and feet of Jesus. Loving, caring, serving, being selfless, only because that’s the way their savior first loved them.
The other part of those mercies is Jesus Himself.
We look at our lives, our loved ones, and the world around us and know that no one is exempt from suffering. In fact, what Jesus actually does promise us is that we WILL have suffering.
During the sermon on March 22 we heard, “God does not promise to keep us from suffering, but He promises to keep us IN suffering.”
“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”
Our hope is that there is nothing in this world that could possibly ever keep us from our Lord and Savior. Our hope is that there is not a single thing that can change the fact that Jesus has already won victory for us. Nothing can take away our eternal hope of life with Jesus forever.
Virus cases growing, stores closing, we don’t ever for a second leave His hands. Things getting worse, He knew, He knows, He is in control.
The reason that these words are so important is because they are not words for when times are good. These words are a defiant battle cry for when everything is falling apart and your head is filled with lies borne of fear instead of truth. These words aren’t for times when I believe them. These words are for when everything hurts and I desperately WANT to believe them. This song is for times that we can say, ‘My heart does not feel like you are faithful, but I am choosing to believe that You are.’
Singing these words even while your heart is trying to catch up is saying, “I refuse to let my circumstances tell me who my God is. I refuse to let fear, depression, loss, or anything else tell me that He is not faithful, that He is not good.”
These words are true, even when we are singing them with tears in our eyes and through clenched teeth. So keep singing, friends. Put on songs filled with truths, declare with your mouth, and if you need to, pray for your heart to catch up.