“I live to show his power, who once did bring
My joys to weep, and now my griefs to sing.”
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
If the Mitchells had a family hymn, it would be one by William Cowper. My father’s favorite line in the hymn is “Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.” And mine is “The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower.”
My life has been full of the strange and sad (hey adoption!) and I have struggled for years submit to the will of God in times of suffering. It’s hard to trust Him when your life turns upside down, it’s hard believe in His love. Last year, God taught me forgiveness (the lesson is nowhere near complete, but some of the heavy lifting is out of the way). It’s less than a week into 2017 and I already am getting the feeling that this year God is going to teach me how to properly deal with grief. Too often I take the approach of a child and close my heart to His love when He brings another trial. How silly and stupid of me, though. He is the one person it is entirely “safe” to love and be loved by! The one person who will not leave me, let me down, or stop caring for me, and the one person who can bring me through the trials unbroken.
The Mitchell family theme hymn may be the one by William Cowper. My personal theme hymn, however, is “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go” by George Matheson. (In second place are “Thou Hidden Love of God” by Gerhard Tersteegen, “They Shall Soar Like Eagles” by Laura Manzo, and a few others.) The third verse is one that has comforted me so many times:
“O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.”
My goal this year is to grow enough to be able to mean the words of the first verse when I sing them:
“O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.”
This year I want to learn to rest my weary soul in Him. There is so much growing I am missing out on because I refuse to lean on His love. I find it interesting that the same chapter in Hebrews that commands us to “lay aside every weight” also reminds us of the reason for suffering and the attitude we should have toward it. I’d hazard a guess that grief can often be a weight we need to lay aside. I need to learn to cast all my cares on Him, and to let grief refine me instead of letting it crush me.
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
by William Cowper
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.