Posts Tagged 'Providence'



Lord’s Day 10: Not by Chance

Catechism and Psalter

Oftentimes the process of writing is an exercise in self-teaching.  As I create articles for URC Psalmody, I’ve often experienced this phenomenon.  In this instance, the process of duplicating and evaluating the Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism over the past several weeks has implanted the words of this wonderful confession deep in my memory, and enhanced my appreciation of the document to an unimaginable extent.  This is especially true in regard to Lord’s Day 10, in which the authors of the Catechism turn their attention to the glorious and all-encompassing doctrine of Providence.

27 Q.  What do you understand by the providence of God?

Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven
and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

28 Q.  How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

We can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have
good confidence in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
All creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will
they can neither move nor be moved.

Suggested Songs

The psalms speak of God’s providence in a variety of ways.  Terms like “tender mercies,” “steadfast love,” and “lovingkindness” are just a few of the phrases used to describe the Lord’s continuing care for his creation and, more specifically, his chosen people.  The blue Psalter Hymnal contains a multitude of beautiful and beloved versifications of these passages.

169, “My Song Forever Shall Record” (Psalm 89)

(Sung at Dordt College and by Hope PRC in CA)

“Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures…”  This setting of the first part of Psalm 89 sets forth in beautiful song God’s faithfulness over all creation.  Here are some selected stanzas:

My song forever shall record
The tender mercies of the Lord;
Thy faithfulness will I proclaim,
And every age shall know Thy Name.

I sing of mercies that endure,
Ever builded firm and sure,
Of faithfulness that never dies,
Established changeless in the skies.

O Thou Jehovah, God of hosts,
What mighty one Thy likeness boasts?
In all Thy works and vast designs
Thy faithfulness forever shines.

The swelling sea obeys Thy will,
Its angry waves Thy voice can still;
Thy mighty enemies are slain,
Thy foes resist Thy power in vain.

The heavens and earth, by right divine,
The world and all therein, are Thine;
The whole creation’s wondrous frame
Proclaims its Maker’s glorious Name.

281, “O Praise Ye the Name of Jehovah” (Psalm 135)

(Sung by Grace URC in Dunnville, ON)

“…Leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty…”  To some extent Psalm 135 overlaps with the first part of Psalm 89, but it also focuses more closely on God’s relationship to the Church, especially as it addresses the “servants appointed to stand in the house of our God.”

O praise ye the Lord for His goodness;
‘Tis pleasant His praises to sing;
His people, His chosen and precious,
Your praises with gratitude bring.

I know that the Lord is almighty,
Supreme in dominion is He,
Performing His will and good pleasure
In heaven and in earth and the sea.

Thy name shall abide, O Jehovah,
Through all generations renowned;
The Lord is the Judge of His people,
His mercies forever abound.

23, “To Thee, O Lord, I Fly” (Psalm 16)

(Sung to LEOMINSTER on YouTube)

“…All things, in fact, come to us not by chance but from his fatherly hand.”  In Psalm 16 David extols the Lord for upholding him throughout his life and granting him “a beautiful inheritance.”  Confident in God’s providence, he declares, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (v. 8 ESV).

When we considered Lord’s Day 1, I pointed you to Psalter Hymnal number 22, “When in the Night I Meditate.”  Although that’s my personal favorite when it comes to settings of Psalm 16, number 23 just across the page is an excellent choice as well.  In the 1912 Psalter these words are set to the tune LEOMINSTER (Psalter Hymnal #389), which seems to suit this text better than MARY.

The lot to me that fell
Is beautiful and fair;
The heritage in which I dwell
Is good beyond compare.
I praise the Lord above
Whose counsel guides aright;
My heart instructs me in His love
In seasons of the night.

I keep before me still
The Lord whom I have proved;
At my right hand He guards from ill,
And I shall not be moved.
Life’s pathway Thou wilt show,
To Thy right hand wilt guide,
Where streams of pleasure flow,
And boundless joys abide.

52, “O Lord, by Thee Delivered” (Psalm 30)

“We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well…”  Psalm 30 tells the story of a self-confident individual who, through affliction, is taught to place his trust instead in the Lord.  How often do we need similar lessons in our own Christian lives!  Only those who accept the reality of God’s providence will truly remain unmoved.

In prosperous days I boasted,
Unmoved I shall remain;
For, Lord, by Thy good favor
My cause Thou didst maintain;
I soon was sorely troubled,
For Thou didst hide Thy face;
I cried to Thee, Jehovah,
I sought Jehovah’s grace.

My grief is turned to gladness,
To Thee my thanks I raise,
Who hast removed my sorrow
And girded me with praise;
And now, no longer silent,
My heart Thy praise will sing;
O Lord my God, forever
My thanks to Thee I bring.

290, “O Lord, My Inmost Heart and Thought” (Psalm 139)

(Sung on YouTube)

“…and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from his love.”  David, the author of Psalm 139, intimately understood the doctrine of providence.  More importantly, he was able to apply this truth to his own life, ultimately praying God to search him and know his heart.

If I the wings of morning take
To some remotest land,
Still I shall be upheld by Thee
And guided by Thy hand.

Search me, O God, and know my heart,
Try me, my thoughts to know;
O lead me, if in sin I stray,
In paths of life to go.

140, “O God, How Good Thou Art” (Psalm 73)

(Sung by Grace URC in Dunnville, ON)

“All creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved.”  To summarize the thrust of Lord’s Day 10, we need only turn to Psalm 73.  In the last section of this magnificent poem, versified in this Psalter Hymnal setting, we find a deep understanding and heartfelt application of the providence of God.

O God, how good Thou art
To all the pure of heart,
Though life seems vain;
Burdened with anxious care,
I groped in dark despair,
Till in Thy house of prayer
All was made plain.

Ever, O Lord, with Thee,
All shall be well with me,
Held by Thy hand;
And Thou wilt guide my feet
By Thine own counsel sweet,
Till I, for glory meet,
In glory stand.

In earth or heaven above
Who is there that I love
Compared with Thee?
My heart may faint with fears,
But God my strength appears,
And will to endless years
My portion be.

O it is good that I
May still to God draw nigh
As oft before;
The Lord Jehovah blest,
My refuge and my rest,
Shall be in praise confessed
Forevermore.

–MRK

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Lord’s Day 9: My God and Father

Catechism and Psalter

We’ve been progressing through the Heidelberg Catechism here on URC Psalmody since the beginning of this year, and now we come to two of the most powerful and beloved Lord’s Days in the entire confession.  Lord’s Day 9 explains what it means to believe in God the Father; Lord’s Day 10 goes on to consider God’s creation and providence in more detail.  Today, the first of these.

26 Q.  What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father, almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?

A.  That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who out of nothing created heaven and earth
and everything in them,
who still upholds and rules them
by his eternal counsel and providence,
is my God and Father
because of Christ his Son.

I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends me
in this sad world.

He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

Suggested Songs

Where can we find more fitting words for this wondrous confession than in the psalms?  Countless verses from the psalms, like the Catechism, connect the objective reality of God’s existence with our personal awareness of him as Creator and Father—think of phrases like “O LORD, our Lord” (Psalm 8:1) and “O God, you are my God” (Psalm 63:1).   Here are just a few selections from the Psalter Hymnal that echo the themes of this Lord’s Day.

183, “O Come before the Lord, our King” (Psalm 95)

“[I believe] that the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them…” Psalm 95, one of the most familiar songs of praise in the Psalter, brings out many of the points of Lord’s Day 9, but most specifically God’s might as manifested in creation:

Almighty power the Lord maintains,
Exalted over all He reigns,
He holds the valleys in His hand,
He makes the mighty mountains stand;
To Him belong both land and sea,
Creator of the world is He.

The natural response to our realization of God’s greatness is a call to worship.

O come and let us worship now,
Before our Maker let us bow;
We are His sheep and He our God,
He feeds our souls in pastures broad;
He safely leads us in the way;
O come and heed His voice today.

260, “To the Hills I Lift Mine Eyes” (Psalm 120)

(Sung on YouTube)

“…[He] still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence…”  Appealing to God’s power as manifested in creation, Psalm 121 assures its singers that the Lord is our ever-watchful Guide and Helper.

To the hills I lift mine eyes;
Whence shall help for me arise?
From the Lord shall come mine aid,
Who the heaven and earth has made.
He will guide through dangers all,
Will not suffer thee to fall;
He who safe His people keeps
Slumbers not and never sleeps.

102, “O God, Give Thou Ear to My Plea” (Psalm 55)

“I trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul…”  The footnote in the Catechism itself points us to Psalm 55 as a prooftext for this bold statement, and for good reason.  The third and fourth verses of this setting afford the believer unspeakable comfort:

Nay, soul, call on God all the day;
The Lord for thy help will appear;
At eve, morn, and noon humbly pray,
And He thy petition will hear.

Thy burden now cast on the Lord,
And He shall Thy weakness sustain;
The righteous who trust in His word
Unmoved shall forever remain.

244, “Thou, Lord, Hast Dealt Well with Thy Servant” (Psalm 119)

“…and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world…”  Due to its length, perhaps we aren’t always as familiar with Psalm 119 as with the other psalms.  But if we take the time to study it, we’ll find that this mammoth “wisdom psalm” brims over with sage words for the growing Christian.  This selection, from verses 65-72, sets forth in simple language some of the benefits of divinely-ordered affliction in stanzas 2 and 4.

Before my affliction I wandered,
But now Thy good Word I obey;
O Thou who art holy and gracious,
Now teach me Thy statutes, I pray.

Affliction has been for my profit,
That I to Thy statutes might hold;
Thy law to my soul is more precious
Than thousands of silver and gold.

137, “In Doubt and Temptation” (Psalm 73)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

“He is able to do this because he is almighty God.”  The latter half of Psalm 73 counters the weakness and faithlessness of our human nature with the constancy and steadfastness of our mighty God.  This versification captures the idea beautifully with a well-chosen refrain: “My God, I will extol Thee and ever bless Thy Name; each day will I give thanks to Thee and all Thy praise proclaim.”

In doubt and temptation I rest, Lord, in Thee;
My hand is in Thy hand, Thou carest for me;
My soul with Thy counsel through life Thou wilt guide,
And afterward make me in glory abide.

In glory Thou only my portion shalt be,
On earth for none other I long but for Thee;
My flesh and heart falter, but God is my stay,
The strength of my spirit, my portion for aye.

All they that forsake Thee must perish and die,
But near to my Savior most blessed am I;
I make Thee my refuge, my Lord and my God;
Thy grace and Thy glory I publish abroad.

205, “The Tender Love a Father Has” (Psalm 103)

(Sung on YouTube)

“He desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.”  No psalm speaks more eloquently of the fatherhood of God than Psalm 103.  Psalter Hymnal number 205 focuses specifically on this section:

The tender love a father has
For all his children dear,
Such love the Lord bestows on them
Who worship Him in fear.

The Lord remembers we are dust,
And all our frailty knows;
Man’s days are like the tender grass,
And as the flower he grows.

The flower is withered by the wind
That smites with blighting breath;
So man is quickly swept away
Before the blast of death.

Unchanging is the love of God,
From age to age the same,
Displayed to all who do His will
And reverence His name.

Those who His gracious covenant keep
The Lord will ever bless;
Their children’s children shall rejoice
To see His righteousness.

What a glorious assurance is ours!  How great are the riches of God’s mercy toward us, as this Lord’s Day describes!  How marvelous it is that the almighty Lord of creation “is my God and Father because of Christ his Son”!

–MRK

The Way Everlasting

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen that the psalms have words of wisdom for Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Not surprisingly, the psalms have something important to say about New Year’s Day as well.

One of my favorite psalms for any occasion is Psalm 139.  It is full of childlike awe, yet rich with theological depth.  It expresses both joyful praise and quiet trust.  And its simple request is summed up in its final verses: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”

The Psalter Hymnal versifies Psalm 139 this way:

Lord, Thou hast searched me and dost know
Where’er I rest, where’er I go;
Thou knowest all that I have planned,
And all my ways are in Thy hand.

My words from Thee I cannot hide,
I feel Thy power on every side;
O wondrous knowledge, awful might,
Unfathomed depth, unmeasured height!

Where can I go apart from Thee,
Or whither from Thy presence flee?
In heaven? It is Thy dwelling fair;
In death’s abode? Lo, Thou art there.

If I the wings of morning take,
And far away my dwelling make,
The hand that leadeth me is Thine,
And my support Thy power divine.

If deepest darkness cover me,
The darkness hideth not from Thee;
To Thee both night and day are bright,
The darkness shineth as the light.

All that I am I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, has fashioned me;
I give my Maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.

Ere into being I was brought,
Thine eye did see, and in Thy thought
My life in all its perfect plan
Was ordered ere my days began.

Thy thoughts, O God, how manifold,
More precious unto me than gold!
I muse on their infinity,
Awaking, I am still with Thee.

The wicked Thou wilt surely slay,
From me let sinners turn away;
They speak against the Name divine,
I count God’s enemies as mine.

Search me, O God, my heart discern,
Try me, my inmost thought to learn;
And lead me, if in sin I stray,
To choose the everlasting way.

Below is a very unique recording of Psalm 139, combining some more modern lyrics with two of the verses above.

Psalm 139 has a lot to say to the believer in the year 2013.  As we look forward into the coming months, will we live out our lives knowing that the Lord has searched us, and that he knows “where’er we rest, where’er we go”?  Will we choose the words that proceed from our mouths realizing that we cannot hide a single one from him?  Will we wholeheartedly trust in his “wondrous knowledge, awful might, unfathomed depth, unmeasured height”?

But Psalm 139 also has words of warning for those who are fleeing from God.  “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”  Put your trust in the Lord, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go forth to serve the Lord in the year 2013, may the psalmist’s prayer never depart from your hearts: “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Happy New Year.

–MRK

Twenty Twelve in Perspective

An early header design

An early header design

At this time last year, plans were just starting to come together in my head for some sort of website about the Psalter Hymnal.  As my interest in Reformed worship deepened and broadened, I had begun to search the internet for a source of online information on the intersection between the United Reformed Churches in North America, the Biblical principles for worship, and the songs of our Psalter Hymnal.  My quest wasn’t futile, but it was rather disappointing; the results were quite scanty.  That’s when I encountered the idea of starting a blog—an online discussion forum with the freedom to focus specifically on these topics, as well as the flexibility to branch out into a wide variety of arenas.

By December 31st, the deed was done.  I had set up a WordPress account and begun playing around with my blog-to-be, titled, for lack of a better name, “URC Psalmody.”  My first post was a meditation on the Psalter Hymnal’s versifications of Psalm 103, followed by a not-too-successful survey on “Instruments in Worship” and an article on “Paraphrasing the Psalms”.  When the blog actually went public on January 10th, I guess I expected something dramatic—an immediate and enthusiastic response from the world of Reformed churches, a shower of comments from new readers across the continent, an excited group of eager followers.

What I got was nothing.  And nothing.  And more nothing.  Days when the blog got three hits were outstanding; days with zero hits were more typical.  I was so eager for participation that I rejoiced to find spam in my trash bin.  I had given out links to as many URC pastors and musicians as I knew, including the Songbook Committee, but I wasn’t getting any results.  Although I plugged away at new posts, the eerie hush continued until the middle of February.

Then, on the afternoon of February 20th, I got an email from Rev. Derrick Vander Meulen of the URC Psalter Hymnal Committee.  He had received my email (which I thought was long lost) and promised to spread the word about the blog.  And did he ever!  The page views on URC Psalmody shot up from 1 on February 19th to 203 on February 20th.  Sixty-six of the 68 referrals were from Facebook.  At least four new followers joined the blog that same day, and seven comments were posted!  While our daily blog views, even now, are nowhere near this initial peak, since then we’ve enjoyed a pretty steady stream of new readers, comments, and discussions.

Hudson Valley URC Exterior

The meeting place of Classis Eastern US

March and April were fairly ordinary months for blogging.  I published a three-part series entitled “Meet the Psalm-Hymn,” examining some of the important differences between literal psalm settings and the paraphrases common to the Psalter Hymnal.  Then came another three-part series on exclusive and inclusive psalmody, followed by a two-part series on the controversy surrounding the name “Jehovah.”  I also enjoyed the opportunity to attend the spring meeting of Classis Eastern US of the URCNA, and published my enthusiastic reaction to this assembly.  I rounded out April with a “Resource Roundup” post containing the highlights of my first four months of blogging.

Grace Reformed Church, where the URC plant meets

Grace Reformed Church, where the URC plant meets

Then came May, and with it a buzz of activity and anticipation.  At the classis meeting in March I had volunteered as a helper for Synod 2012 of the URCNA, which would be convened by Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church in June at Nyack College, less than two hours from my home.  The Lord’s providential hand was abundantly clear in this case, as I quickly received word that I would be recruited not only as a volunteer, but also as the synodical organist.  Along with these obligations came the opportunity to attend synod’s open sessions and advisory committee meetings.  With overwhelming excitement I began preparing URC Psalmody as a relay point for important synodical news and decisions, especially those pertaining to the proposed URC Psalter Hymnal.  Meanwhile I visited Christ Reformed Church, the URC church plant in Washington, DC, and accompanied the worship service on their 1930 Möller pipe organ.

Synod 2012 photo by Glenda Mathes

Before I knew it, June had arrived, and Synod 2012 with it.  I had one of the best weeks of my life in Nyack, from accompanying the attendees at the opening prayer service with two other young musicians (Shannon Murphy and J. P. Galib) to hearing the delegates sing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” and the Doxology as the closing music of synod.  Spiritually, I grew immensely from witnessing the matters before synod approached with humility, love, and a surpassing desire to glorify God—and I got to learn a thing or two about the United Reformed Churches in North America in the process.  Along the way, URC Psalmody enjoyed one of its busiest weeks with regard to site hits—an extra blessing.

But synod wasn’t the only important event for URC Psalmody during the month of June.  Back in April I had been contacted by a Mid-America Reformed Seminary student named James Oord, who described himself as an avid follower of the blog and shared an almost eerie percentage of my interests and thoughts.  The fruit of our correspondence was that Jim eventually joined URC Psalmody as my co-author.  While I participated in West Sayville Reformed Bible Church’s first TASC (Teens All Serving Christ) mission trip (another time of great spiritual growth), Jim shared a meditation on Psalm 54 and published a highly popular introduction to the world of mini Psalter Hymnals.

The 1934 incarnation of the "Mini-Psalter"

1934 Mini Psalter Hymnal

As July rolled around, we tried to fall back into some semblance of a regular schedule on URC Psalmody.  Jim’s excellent pieces on “Contemplating the Covenanters” and “The Book of Psalms for Worship” generated another spike in blog views, mostly from our enthusiastic Reformed Presbyterian brothers and sisters.  Along with several hundred other youth from every corner of the continent, I attended the 2012 Reformed Youth Services convention at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA, while Jim spent an entire week meditating on the various themes of Psalm 119.

August was a fairly quiet blogging month, containing a typical assortment of articles, plus a seven-part series on psalm/hymn tunes and a special post commemorating the life of Dale Grotenhuis.  We wrapped up another four months of blogging with another “Resource Roundup.”

In September, Jim and I embarked on a new mission: to summarize and discuss, chapter-by-chapter, a recently-released book on psalm-singing entitled Sing a New Song.  These weekly discussions took us from then until just two weeks ago!

October brought yet another trip for me; this one began with the fall meeting of Classis Eastern US at Preakness Valley URC in Wayne, NJ, and ended at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, IN.  Along the way I got to spend a weekend with Jim, and he even made arrangements for me to lead a Sunday school class at his home church, Community URC in Schererville.  Again the Lord providentially guided this vacation for his purposes, and I returned home physically tired but spiritually refreshed.

November saw most of my blogging plans crumpled up and thrown in the wastebasket as Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Northeast.  Thankfully, however, God preserved my family and church from any significant damage, and once our power was restored I was once again able to re-join Jim in some seasonal meditations.  And that brought us right into December for URC Psalmody’s special Christmas “programming.”

For the few remaining days in the year 2012 I hope to be publishing a few more retrospective posts.  All in all, though, as I look back on God’s providential hand throughout the short history of URC Psalmody, I cannot help but exclaim with the psalmist, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”

Through all we do here on URC Psalmody, may his Name continue to be praised.

–MRK

Hurricane Sandy and Psalm 30

As of last weekend I was expecting to have a nice array of articles, recordings, and videos ready for publication on URC Psalmody this week.  After my visit to Community URC and Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Schererville and Dyer, IN, I had an exciting brood of fresh ideas for blog material.

What I didn’t expect was a hurricane.

After Hurricane Irene in August of last year left us relatively unaffected, Sandy took my family by surprise.  True, we made adequate preparations and expected a few days of wind and rain, along with some minor inconveniences.  But only God could have foreseen the actual impact of this storm.

On Tuesday morning, after a long night of howling wind, we turned on the battery radio (we had lost power on Monday afternoon).  The reports were shocking.  Over ninety percent of Long Island homes—nearly one million utility customers—were without electricity.  The storm surge had combined with the full moon to create record-breaking high tides, causing devastating flooding in low-lying areas.  Bridges, tunnels, railways, ferries—all infrastructure was shut down.  For a day or two there was no way to get on or off Long Island.  Many roads, from the local streets to the expressways, were impassable due to flooding and downed trees.

As the floodwaters inundated many local communities, residents lost furniture, appliances, vehicles, and sometimes their entire homes.  Electrical problems made many houses burn down, and gas leaks caused others to explode.  As far as we know, God mercifully protected all of the members of West Sayville Reformed Bible Church from serious damage; we only heard these devastating stories secondhand.  But the effects of Hurricane Sandy were, and continue to be, eerily close at hand.

Over the course of the week, my personal devotions took me through Psalm 30.  With a new level of empathy I meditated on these words:

As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
By your favor, O LORD,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.

–Psalm 30:6,7 (ESV)

Whether spoken or unspoken, doesn’t the declaration “I shall not be moved” so often characterize our lives?  In times of prosperity, we like to believe that we can control our own destiny.  How soon we forget the true Source of our life and comfort!  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:13,14).

Sometimes it takes a hurricane to bring us to our senses.

Over the past week, I’ve seen Sandy bring out the best and the worst in people.  Inconvenience and discomfort often demolish humanity’s façade of politeness and generosity, leaving tatters of envy, selfishness, and bald-faced greed.  On the other hand, examples of selflessness and compassion abound, particularly among our fellow believers.  Knowing that friends from North Carolina to Ontario to Missouri have kept us in thought and prayer through this time is incredibly comforting.

More importantly, though, Hurricane Sandy has served as a colossal perspective adjuster, and hopefully not just for me.  Our first response to disaster should reflect our reliance on God:

To you, O LORD, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me!
O LORD, be my helper!”

–Psalm 30:8-10

Instead of uselessly trying to assert our own independence, we “ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).  Confronted with the awesome power of a hurricane, we should turn our eyes toward the God who “makes the clouds his chariot” (Psalm 104:3).

And what of those who lost their property or even their loved ones in this natural disaster?  Those who have placed their trust in Christ can rest assured that the Lord’s “anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime” (Psalm 30:5).

Things are not yet back to normal here on Long Island.  This will be my family’s eighth day without power, phone, or internet.  As of Saturday, hundreds of cars were still lined up waiting for gas at the few stations that have reopened since the storm.  Some families in the more devastated areas of the island are just starting to return to the remnants of their houses to assess the damage.  Since electricity and internet access are still hard to obtain, it may be several more days before I’m able to resume writing for the blog.  But, like the psalmist, I can rest in the unshakable comfort that “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).  With confident expectation I can declare:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

–Psalm 30:11, 12

–MRK


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