Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
I was standing alone on a little stage, behind a lectern with a microphone in my face and a coffin by my side. A room full of tearful, strained faces looked up at me, completely lost and hopeless. The funeral director started the sound track of the hymn I had just announced, and the room filled with the sound of a large choir and full orchestra. The pitch of the soundtrack was too high and difficult to sing to, and it felt as if I was the only one in the room singing. I felt self-conscious and embarrassed as I tried to sing along with the beautiful choir, but I just wanted the grieving family to experience the truth in the words of courage and strength, so I sang as well as I could.
Just a few days later, I was singing the same song in our weekly staff meeting. There was no choir or orchestra, just a single guitar and around forty voices, singing the same words to the same song. This time I could hardly hear myself, singing as loud as I could, because I was drowned out by those singing around me. We declared together, full of faith and hope, the living testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives.
Great is Thy Faithfulness
It can be hard to believe at times. Too often I hear stories of the lost and hopeless, people who are completely overwhelmed with the struggles of their circumstances. And I don’t blame them! These stories are very real and very hard - infertility, family breakdown, grief, chronic and terminal illness. Some people’s life is really tough, and all too often it is no fault of their own.
People often comment, “I don’t know how you do it,” or, “I could never do what you do.” It’s true that pastoral care is hard, and some days it’s really hard. The pain and struggle that people face is real. I find myself in prayer ministry fighting with my own lack of faith, trying to pray with confidence and hope for a miracle from God, but knowing that it would take just that, a miracle, for their situation to change. I hear the voice of doubt in the back of my mind, “God, can you really help this person?”
And the answer is always 'Yes!' You see, I also know the stories of people who have come out the other side of their conflict, pain, sickness and grief, and testify to the very real presence of God in their story, against the odds, “working all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). God’s love is stronger than any circumstance life can throw our way (Romans 8:38-39), and ultimately there is always victory in Him (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The words of the hymn are true, not just like kind words in a Hallmark card, but dependable, trustable truth. Words that can be sung in confidence and faith, knowing that God loves and cares for you, whatever the cry of your heart, and is actively involved in your story. He really is “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.”
Take the time to read the words of the hymn. Read all the way through, slowly, old English and all. I pray that you will find confidence and faith that God is at work in your story. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Great is Thy Faithfulness
Is there a line in the hymn that speaks to your heart? Please share your favourite line in the comments!