Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How Firm a Foundation

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I'll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call you to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
and sanctify to you your deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
the flame shall not hurt you; I only design
your dross to consume and your gold to refine.

"E'en down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
and when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
like lambs they shall still in my bosom be borne.

"The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
that soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake."

I have been reading "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God", edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. You can read it online. Most of the chapters in the book originated as talks given at the 2005 Desiring God National Conference, and they address such questions as: In what ways is God sovereign over Satan's work? How can we be free and responsible if God ordains our choices? What is the ultimate reason for suffering? How does suffering advance the mission of the church? How does God's grace enter our sufferings? What about hope when things look hopeless?

One of the chapters, written by David Powlison, addresses God's Grace and Your Sufferings. Go there. Read it. It's well worth the time it will take you to do so.

We all suffer in many ways, some more than others. We all suffer in different ways. Job lost his children, his wealth, and his health. He was mocked by his wife and rebuked by his friends. Paul was shipwrecked and imprisoned, and had to live with the knowledge that he had been responsible for the pain and suffering and death of many of his Christian brothers and sisters. Mary suffered as she watched her Son die on that dreadful cross. Down through the ages, saints have gone through incredible pain, rejection, loss, even torture. And God has been sovereign over every moment.

This past weekend really should have been a time of great reflection and joyful thanksgiving. It's always sobering to remember that Jesus Christ had to die a terrible death on a cruel cross to pay the price for my sin. I am so very thankful that God found a way to redeem my soul. It really is my preference to spend some time on Good Friday meditating on the necessity of the cross.

It turned out that most of our family came over for a good part of the day. We had a great time visiting and going for a nature walk. We enjoyed fellowship and food, then gathered around the campfire as the sun was going down.

Sadly, things were said that ought not to have been said - at least not in the manner in which they were expressed. Feelings were hurt. There were misunderstandings, most of which have been cleared up by now. We are a Christian family, and we're all quite articulate and quick to speak. Sometimes, we aren't careful about the way we express our thoughts. Sometimes, we sin against one another.

In explaining the suffering that God allowed us to experience, I said the following to my daughter:

The way I look at all of this is that we are sharing just a tiny bit in the suffering of Christ. HIS family didn't understand him. He was criticized for doing good. He was mocked and reviled. He was praised (Palm Sunday) then betrayed.

A couple of our kids have experienced much of that. I know it's just a tiny bit compared to what our Lord suffered, but there it is. And it's a humbling, painful experience that sends us fleeing to God for comfort. It makes us question our decisions, and then come to a settled belief that this is what God would have us do at this time.

So, God is good, all the time, in every way.

Christians are not exempt from suffering. Part of the suffering we experience is having to live in this world when we long for the next. We have to live with our sinful natures when we desire to be sanctified and holy. We have to endure being criticized or misunderstood; conversely, we have to endure worrying about those we love when we think they are being foolish. When there are disagreements within a family, it's painful. It causes us to suffer loss.

The thing to do when we meet with suffering -- whether it's from sickness or loss or relationship issues or another form of pain -- the thing to do is to flee to God.

Listen to what He says:

Fear not.
I am with you.
Don't be dismayed.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will supply you with my all-sufficient grace.
I will refine you.
I will bear you up.
I will always love you.
I will never, no never, no never forsake you.

Psalm 30 is a great reminder:

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up

and have not let my foes rejoice over me.

2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

and you have healed me.

3 O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;

you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

c Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

We have a firm foundation. Even though our lives are shaken, we know that God is in control, and that He is at work in all of our sufferings. We know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy, blessed joy, comes in the morning.


  1. Praise God for sending us reasons to flee to Him!

    By the way, this is Elena. ;)


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