Sunday, January 18, 2009


Don't you love how sometimes the songs or sermon in church seem as though God had hand-picked them for you? That's how church has been for the past two weeks for me.

Last year before my surgery, I found great comfort in listening to they hymn "Be Still My Soul," which was written by Katharina von Schlegel in 1752. At that point, fearing that I may have a stroke before my surgery or have a heart attack on the operating table, my greatest comfort came from the second verse of the song:

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

As pertinent as that is to the circumstances our family is facing right now, those of you who know the uncertainty of our current situation will understand even more how much this, the third verse, meant to me this morning:

Be still, my soul when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

I spent a great deal of the singing portion of church this morning fighting tears, but it occurred to me as I was singing - sometimes out loud, sometimes only in my heart as I was trying not to cry - that I was in that very moment preaching the Gospel to myself as our pastor likes to say.

How encouraged I was as the Holy Spirit reminded me of His love and His sovereignty through these lyrics.

But, it got even better. Once we'd finished singing about how God would soothe our sorrow in separation and how he would calm my fears, we then sang "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," originally written by Joachim Neander in 1680! (Both of these hymns were written in German and later translated into English during the 19th century.) Sometimes it's easy to think that the fears and struggles we face today are somehow unique to us, so I love singing lyrics that were written literally hundreds of years ago.

Where my greatest source of fear and anxiety right now centers on our family's separation and the sorrow of leaving the places and people that I love, David's anxiety has more to do with leaving his secure job and launching out on his own, albeit with a partner. Many times in the past few weeks we've questioned whether we are doing the right thing, especially David as he lets go of a secure job, dependable paychecks, the security of health insurance, etc. When we sang these verses of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," I again couldn't help but savor in the comfort that comes from reminding ourselves of the power of the Gospel (bolded emphasis mine):

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ere have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

After we sang, our pastor taught this morning from Luke 12, and his message was a timely reminder. The Gospel, Bill said, always speaks first of who we are and only then of what we are to do. What is paramount is who (or Whose) we are, and when we remember that, our grip on the things of this world - be it our home, our wealth, our family, even our lives - can be loosened as we trust God to provide for our true needs.

Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness in encouraging us even in the midst of our doubt and fear.


My Happy Homestead said...


My Happy Homestead said...

I wish circumstances could be a little different.... we know God is with us, but it's still hard sometimes...and it's hard to see my friends and family go through hard times.