Whate’er my God ordains is right;
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care
Is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall;
And so to Him I leave it all
Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708)
There is a truism from the great John Newton. John Newton’s maxim goes: “Everything is needful that he sends; nothing can be needful that he withholds.” For Christians the latter assertion is easy for the head and heart to accept. We know that whatever God withholds from us couldn’t be of much use or need for our good. How many times have parents withheld something from their children to save them from the consequences of their bad decisions? Some years ago when my son was about 9 years old “pokey-man cards” were all the rage! My son was convinced that if I would buy him as many cards as possible at the current bargain then “we” would have a return on “our” money. His pitch was this: “Dad these cards are going to be worth loads more in the future.” But alas, his powers of persuasion (though amusing) did not enchant me. Every so often I’ll ask my now college age son “how is the value of those pokey-man cards holding up?” The silence is deafening. What I withheld from him he really didn’t need. Thank the Lord that our heavenly Father does the same for us as his children!
However, Newton’s former assertion can be a little more difficult to accept. It’s not difficult for us to intellectually affirm this truth. “Everything is needful that he sends!” This proposition is rather easy to grasp intellectually. Since God is sovereign, and all knowing, and all good, and all powerful, then it is most reasonable to deduce that everything that comes our way— sent from the invisible hand of God’s providence—is needed. However, the heart is a different matter. It is much more difficult for us with heartfelt confidence to trust that everything that comes our way from the invisible hand of God’s providence is needed for our good. As the poem from Rodigast suggests, how can “sorrow, need, or death” be something that works together for our good? Well the tendency for us is to think that during times of trial we are forsaken by God. We intuitively equate difficult times of trial with being forsaken by God.
But, what if God is there the whole time? What if God is in fact holding us up so that we shall not fall—fall from his love, fall from hope, fall from faith? Faith, hope, and love assure us that we are not forsaken! Faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross grounds us in our justification! Hope anchors our souls as we anticipate the marriage supper of the lamb and our glorification! And the love of God which suffuses our very being radiates within and without, empowering us to dispel hate, fear, and anxiety in our sanctification! We can be assured that we are NOT forsaken! And this confidence (which mostly comes through trials) is needed for our good!
Soli Deo Gloria
G Carl Moore