Our Faithful God



By Sandy Miller

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV 84)


“Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” a hymn based on Lamentations 3:22-23, has always been for me a hymn of personal encouragement. It praises God as a good, gracious, and faithful Father – a Father whose love is immutable, whose compassions never fail – a Father who is totally, utterly, completely faithful. His love is so constant that nothing will cause Him to stop loving or to disown His children – even in their unfaithfulness. To do so would contradict who He is – indisputably faithful. Who would not want to have a relationship with Someone that remarkable?

But what does it mean to be faithful? What can make us so secure that even in our unfaithfulness we are not left destitute and without a trace of hope? Who can be trusted – implicitly trusted – without fail? There is only One – our triune God. He has been, is, and eternally will be faithful: reliable, dependable, constant, trustworthy, believable, committed, covenant-keeping, and unfailing, and this hymn reminds us that God proves Himself faithful every single day.

Not only is God’s faithfulness inexhaustible, it is amazingly magnanimous. Mankind may attempt to be consistently faithful in relating to God and to one another, but history (as well as personal experience) has demonstrated otherwise. Commitments are revoked, promises are broken, trust is compromised, affections are withheld, and consequently deception flourishes and declarations of “I don’t trust you!” abound: Man to man. Man to God. But NEVER God to man.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” was written by Thomas Chisholm in 1923. Although there was no dramatic event in Thomas’ life that was a catalyst for writing about God’s faithfulness, through bouts of illness and consequently ups and downs in employment, Thomas discovered fresh, daily blessings from an amazingly faithful God:

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 wilt be.

Verse 1 beautifully portrays God’s faithfulness as a merciful Father, who, as Scripture emphatically tells us, never changes; He is the same yesterday, the same today, the same tomorrow, the same forever.

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.

Verse 2 reminds us that the entire realm of nature is under God’s sovereign control and is a visible witness to His faithful character. The sun will daily rise and the seasons will move in logical progression. God has ordained the natural world to respond to His commands, and it does.

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!
    
Verse 3 is personal for us and proclaims that God lovingly offers to His offspring innumerable blessings, including forgiveness, peace, guidance, strength, hope, and the grace of His abiding presence.

Finally, this hymn has a stunning refrain, a combined doxology, benediction, and grateful prayer.

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.

These words are like a Hallelujah to the Almighty – a tribute to who He is and who He is to His children – our soul’s sufficiency, our sustainer, our merciful salvation. From my own life’s journey and perspective, I have discovered the God who is no more faithful when I am behaving like a daughter of the King than when I am feeling cold, barren, dry and acting selfish and aloof. God is and forever will be a faithful Father.

My heart resonates with what Louis Berkhof (a faculty member of Calvin Theological Seminary and later its president until his retirement in 1944) wrote concerning Lamentations 3:22-23.


“The faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God.
It is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing. It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and fills their hearts with joyful anticipation even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they have forfeited all the blessings of God.”


If this is true (and I am certain that it is) my heart can be settled and secure in God’s faithful love even when I am behaving as a stubborn, fickle, childish, insensitive, fearful, immature, self-centered, indulgent sinner. He doesn’t shake me to my senses. He hugs me to His heart by His Word and His immutable character that stands behind His Word. He allows me to confess my failures, doubts, and despair without ridiculing or shaming and points me back to the narrow, merciful path of grace, ever fresh with the footprints of His Son.

Please pause for a moment and deliberately, slowly, and meditatively read Lamentations 3:22-23. Read it once silently. Read it again out loud. Then pray these words back to God.

“Because of Your great love, Lord, we are not consumed, for Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

With overflowing gratitude, thank You.

I recently did this exercise and was surprised by the outcome. As I pondered this beautiful text, I asked myself what was the hinge that connected this message from God to my life. The word that captured my attention and pierced my understanding in a fresh way was “because.” Sinful as we humans are, why do we experience such incomprehensible blessings from a holy God? Why are we not consumed, swallowed up in despair, defeated on a daily basis? My answer was: Because God’s love is exceedingly great. Because His compassions never fail. Because His mercies are new every morning. Because God is faithful!

Following that meditative experience, I decided to write my own hymn on this precious text to express in lyrical fashion how these promises from God’s Word have had, are having, and will have an impact on my life – all because our incredible God is so very, very faithful.

Because

Because God’s mercy is great beyond measure,
peace now resides within my once-anxious soul.
Because his love is like manna at sunrise,
I’ve offered my heart to Christ’s gracious control.

Because our Lord is eternally faithful,
even when my fickle faithfulness is naught,
I have a Savior, dependable and sure,
when entangled by sin and frightfully caught.
So immeasurably great is God’s faithfulness.
So vast are His tender, compassionate ways.
So deep is His abiding, steadfast love.
So radical His faithful promise to save.

Because our Lord knew mankind needed mercy,
He willingly donned flesh to live and to die,
to offer forgiveness from God His Father,
to restore creation’s beautiful design.

Because of the world’s tainted, corrupt order,
God’s Son walked His appointed pathway to death.
So I’ll trust His command to not be afraid
to live for His glory and His name confess.

So immeasurably great is God’s faithfulness.
So vast are His tender, compassionate ways.
So deep is His abiding, steadfast love.
So radical His faithful promise to save.

Because I was born rebellious by nature,
I lost my moorings, I stumbled, then fled;
yet because Mercy chose to faithfully love me,
He looked upon my heart…chose the cross…and bled.

Now as each morning dawns, I humbly partake
of God’s infinite love as my daily bread.
I dine with His Word, heaven’s merciful Truth,
and live for His glory as His mercies I spread.

So immeasurably great is God’s faithfulness.
So vast are His tender, compassionate ways.
So deep is His abiding, steadfast love.
So radical His faithful promise to save.


Hymns and praise songs have a way, sometimes imperceptibly, of becoming part of the fabric of our souls. Meaningful words set to music become a gift of divine proportion for which I praise our Maker.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” having been sung since my childhood, has indeed penetrated my heart. It’s an inescapable reality that God’s great love, His compassions, His mercy, His grace, His kindness are absolutely true because He is a faithful God.

As I researched the Hebrew word hesed, often translated as “lovingkindness,” I discovered that it actually incorporates a combination of God’s character traits just mentioned: love, mercy, grace, and kindness. What R. C. Sproul, Jr. writes about God’s hesed as “loyal love” pulls all these ideas together and is worth remembering:

“There is no more significant OT description of how God relates to His people than the Hebrew word hesed. I argue that the best translation of this term would be loyal love. God loves His people genuinely, immutably, loyally. Both the love and the loyalty are, of course, tightly bound together. That is just as one cannot love capriciously so one cannot be loyal without love. God is for His people and will never cease to be for them.”

May God give us the grace daily to believe and receive His “loyal love” so that we in return may love Him and others in the strength of His Spirit, in the name of His Son, and for His eternal glory.

God of infinite mercy,
cut loose our imprisoned hearts.
Daily implant within us
the beauty that Calvary wrought.
Without Your faithful kindness
hesed no mortal can know.
God of infinite mercy,
Christ’s blood on our hearts bestow.
                                                                                                                                                                      
God of love without limits,
may we never choose to find
pleasure in this world’s system
and ignore Your truth divine.
You are supremely faithful;
thus we live with hope always.
Each morning brings new mercies
as the blazing sun displays.

Father God, You understood
we’re beset by Adam’s sin.
You knew we needed mercy
to breathe Life and live again.
In the strength of loyal love,
compassion indwelt Your Son,
Who came to earth to save us
with Your mercy and Your love.

Dear Jesus, help us love You
and love others in Your name,
as we receive Your mercy,
which the cross Your love proclaimed.
With resurrection power
Your salvation we receive.
Dear Jesus, help us love You
so that others may believe.

Amen!

May these prayerful thoughts permeate our thinking as we rise each morning. Filled with the assurance that God’s mercy is available, we can navigate both challenges and blessings with the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot deny that daily, in some fashion, we will stumble in our walk of faith. When we do, our Lord doesn’t say, “Get up!” He tenderly lifts us in His strength and whispers, “My beloved, I’m with you. It’s okay to keep walking.” Jesus alone is supremely faithful, and we are in dire need of being aware daily that He is with us, He is for us, He is in us. Thus, enfolded in His presence, we can walk confidently as His chosen daughter forever and ever…Because He is Our Faithful God.



Sandy has attended Bethany for 17 years. She has a deep fondness for children's literature and has even published 2 books, with a third now under construction. Recipes from America's Test Kitchen, with their emphasis on food science, have been tastefully approved and enjoyed in her kitchen. Her 2 granddaughters, ages 3 and 5, have showered her life with their innocent wonder of God's creation. If only they lived within arms' reach...

Comments

  1. What a beautiful expression of God’s faithfulness and love for us❣️✝️ Thank you for sharing.

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