“Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…” (from “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960), composer of 1,200 poems and hymns
I woke up this morning with a favorite old and much loved hymn playing in my mind. The hymn is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Most of us can sing a few bars from it the minute we hear the title. Here are the words, and most likely you know the music (and if not, listen to the YouTube Video at the end of this post):
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.
Chorus: 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!
Verse 2: Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Verse 3: 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!
(Quote source here.)
It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
great is thy faithfulness.
You don’t need to be rescued from life-threatening danger or see God’s miraculous provision in the direst of financial crises to truly know the faithfulness of the Lord. God remains faithful day in and day out in the largest and smallest of circumstances.
Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. Born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky, Chisholm became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year. During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent. Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.
Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”
Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness. And throughout history, He’s never once been proven wrong, for His mercies are new every morning, no matter what. (Quote source here.)
To our modern ears, the wording of the hymn might sound a bit quaint. However, there is nothing quaint about the faithfulness of God. So how do we learn to trust in God’s faithfulness in our lives no matter what our circumstances might be? GotQuestions.org gives us the following answer:
Many places in Scripture extol the faithfulness of God. Lamentations 3:22–23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” So, what is faithfulness?
The Hebrew word translated “faithfulness” means “steadfastness, firmness, fidelity.” The opposite of being faithful is to be ever-changing or wishy-washy. Psalm 119:89–90 says, “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” Here faithfulness is equated with God’s Word. God speaks never-ending truth. If God spoke something a thousand years ago, it still stands. He is faithful to His Word, because His Word is an expression of His character. The promises He made still hold true because He does not change (Malachi 3:6). We see this illustrated from a human perspective in a couple married for eighty years. When the wife lies on her deathbed, her husband sits nearby holding her hand. He won’t leave her, even though she no longer recognizes him. He is faithful to the promises he made to her. In the same way, God remains faithful to His promises, even though we are often unfaithful to Him (2 Timothy 2:13).
We learn to trust the character of a person by getting to know that person. We would not entrust our bank account to a stranger we met in line at the post office—we have no experience with him. We don’t know his character. Before we know God, we are afraid to trust Him. We don’t yet know who He is or what He may do. We learn to trust God by getting to know His character. There are three ways we can get to know Him: studying His Word, reviewing His working in our own lives, and learning to follow His voice.
When we study God’s Word, a pattern emerges. We learn that God never changes and never lies (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29). We learn through Scripture that God has never failed in the past (Isaiah 51:6). He was always true to His Word as He worked in the lives of the ancient Israelites. When He said He would do something, He did it (Numbers 11:23; Matthew 24:35). We begin to build trust upon His proven character. We can trust that God will be true to Himself. He will never cease acting like God. He will never cease being sovereign, being holy, or being good (1 Timothy 6:15; 1 Peter 1:16).
We learn through our own history that He has never failed us, either. One command God often gave the Israelites was “Remember” (Deuteronomy 8:2; Isaiah 46:9). When they remembered all God had done for them, they could more easily trust Him for the future. We need to intentionally remember all the ways God has provided for us and delivered us in the past. Keeping a prayer journal can help with this. When we recall the ways God has answered our prayers, it equips us to continue asking and expecting answers. When we come to Him in prayer, we know that He always hears us (1 John 5:14; Psalm 34:15). He provides what we need (Philippians 4:19). And He will always make everything work together for our good when we trust Him with it (Romans 8:28). We learn to trust God’s future faithfulness by remembering His past faithfulness.
And we can also learn to trust Him by learning to distinguish His voice from the others that compete for attention. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27). We who belong to Jesus need to cultivate the ability to hear Him. He speaks primarily through His Word, but He can also speak through other people, through circumstances, and through the inner confirmation of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16). As we carefully read and meditate upon Scripture, the Holy Spirit often quickens our hearts to a verse or passage and helps us claim it and apply it to our current situation. What the Spirit shows us in His Word is to be taken by faith as His message to us. We build trust by claiming His promises and applying them to our lives.
Above all things, God loves for us to demonstrate faith (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is trusting in the character of God before we see how He is going to work things out. He has given us His Word, and His promises still stand. As we see the ways He brings His promises to fulfillment, our trust in His faithfulness grows. Just as our trust in other people grows with daily interaction, our trust in God grows the same way. We trust Him when we know Him, and to know Him is to trust Him. When we know Him, we can rest in His goodness, even when we don’t understand the circumstances that seem to contradict it. We can trust that God’s plan for us will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). As a child trusts a loving father, we can trust our heavenly Father to always do what is right. (Quote source here.)
In an article published on April 28, 2016, titled, “God Wants You to Stop Stressing Over Your Circumstances,“ by Jade Mazarin, contributor at Relevant Magazine, she writes:
There is a verse in the Psalms that really hits home to me: “My soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1). It’s a statement that I remind myself often. Because, like many of us, it’s easy for my soul to seek rest in other places.
I want everything to run smoothly. And sometimes if I encounter a bump along the road of my plans or receive an outcome that’s unpleasant, I feel unable to rest until it’s fixed. Our circumstances can easily rule our emotions if we let them. But God doesn’t want us to be at the mercy of our varied life events, or the hopeless perspective we can sometimes have about them.
The Bible directs us to look beyond our circumstances. This is a recurring message throughout His word. Rather than getting swept up in the whirlwind of daily events, we should become rooted in the solid foundation of God. Practically speaking, this means leaning on God’s character and seeking after His perspective.
LEANING ON GOD’S CHARACTER
In order to be able to rest in God, we need to meditate on His goodness. Focusing on God’s love is the door to trusting Him. When we grasp that we are precious to Him, we will know He’ll take care of us. Combine this with the realization of His power—His ability to do immeasurably more than we can imagine—and we know we’ll be okay.
Unlike the unpredictability of life, Scripture comforts us with the fact that God is unchanging. “He is the same, yesterday today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is referred to as the “rock” (Psalm 62:2) on which to stand. While even close friends will change, we can depend on God remaining good. We can depend on His being continually loving and compassionate.
I love the way in the book of Isaiah talks about what it means to be confident in God. It gives an illustration of a tree near a stream. It says that even when heat comes, even during a drought, the tree continues to flourish. The reason for this is that the tree “sends out its roots by the stream.” It is constantly drawing from a life giving source. Therefore, “it does not fear when heat comes and its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought, and it never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
Drawing from the source of God, means shifting the focus of our minds and hearts to Him. It means awakening our awareness to His good and powerful presence.
THE GREATNESS OF GOD
We are first to see God as our friend who comforts us by His incomparable understanding. Then, we find comfort in knowing He is bigger than whatever is going on around us. Like the tree, our circumstances of “heat” and “drought” will come and go, but we have a stream near us.
The disciples must have been petrified when a huge storm rocked their small boat. But Jesus is unfazed as He says to them, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Perhaps if they knew at that moment who they were with, they would not have been afraid. We need to know who we’re always with. John Ortberg says, “Peace doesn’t come from finding a lake with no storms. It comes from having Jesus in the boat.”
When we know who God is, and truly believe we are in His hands, we are, as David said, “not shaken” (Psalm 62:5).
I like the illustration of flying in an airplane. When you simply know that the airplane will get you from point A to point B, you don’t really worry when you hit a rough patch. You know it’s just momentary turbulence, a patch that comes and goes. However, if you doubt the skill of the pilot, you might see that turbulence as a sign that any second you’re going to crash.
We can choose if we will believe in God’s character and trust He will take care of us. And if we do, our problems can be seen as merely turbulence on the way to His destination.
SEEKING HIS PERSPECTIVE
Along with grabbing on to His nature, the way for us to remain grounded in stressful times is to seek His view. God has a perspective for everything that happens in our lives. He has a purpose for allowing events, be it the desire for our growth, repositioning us for the future or bringing issues up in order to heal them (to name a few).
We may see a situation that looks hopeless or unfixable, but God sees the potential beneath it. Gaining God’s view, is looking beneath what circumstances look like, into what could be its a deeper purpose.
It is also recognizing that God will get us to the other side. God is the author of hope, and He wants His children to receive this medicine to their souls during trials. Sometimes this means He will turn an event around completely, and He wants you to anticipate that. Sometimes it means He will teach us something new to help you or a relationship. Perhaps He wants you to cling to Him, refine your faith and experience a new level of intimacy with Him.
So, while we may see something as pointless, horrible, or impossible to change, God sees it differently. And since His thoughts are always the truth, we should attempt to look for them.
We are invited to follow David’s example, and redirect our focus by speaking to our own souls. “My soul finds rest in God alone. He alone is my rock and my salvation … He is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1-2). Mind you, David said all this while being chased by Saul’s army. If he can train himself to take refuge in God, can we not?
Sometimes if I feel myself being emotionally overwhelmed, I will place my hand on my heart and focusing on each word, say slowly out loud, “My soul find rest in God alone.” It’s our choice. No matter the hardship of changing old habits, we can decide to practice new ones. We can deliberately start looking up “to the hills, to where our help comes from” (Psalm 121:1), even if we have to remind ourselves of it constantly. We can meditate on the truth of God’s character and then lean on it, as David did. (Quote source here.)
I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear that today. I hope you did, too. God is faithful, and we need to trust Him. Period. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Repeat….
Great . . .
Is Thy . . .
Faithfulness . . . .
YouTube Video: “Great Is They Faithfulness” by Israel Houghton: