Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Turn, O Lord! How long? Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
 
Ps 90:13-15

As obsessed as I am with my own problems, it's too easy for me to forget the problems behind the various psalms. Psalm 90, for example, is about the passage of time, but the days mentioned in it are being measured as time spent in exile. The question, "How long?" is therefore more than just a complaint made by whiners. It's an honest question asked by many around the world: "How long must I be banished from my home?"

I am led by this little portion of Psalm 90 to think about two passages from the prophets. Isaiah promised good news to Israel:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins...
Isaiah 40:1-2

indicating that the compassion prayed for in Psalm 90:13 was granted. But in fact, the compassion prayed for was never missing, for, as Jeremiah said in the midst of pain,

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Though we pray not to see evil days, chances are we will. Our prayer should instead be that we respond to evil as creatures made in the image of the One whose love is constant and whose forgiveness is infinite.

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 will be.

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.

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!

   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! Amen.
Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)
Chris Rice • peace like a river • the hymns project • great is thy faithfulness

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