“…the richest and deepest and most profitable experiences we had in this world were those which were gained in the very roads from which we shrink back with dread.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
When tragedy strikes, you don’t enter grief; instead, grief enters you. That statement delivers insight to help us understand unwanted journeys. When grief enters, it is not dissimilar to an arrow lodging in your soul. It’s an injury. And it’s good to medicate the pain of tragedy with timeless truths that are not subject to the vicissitudes of circumstances.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
If you submit to God’s word, simple promises such as this one serve as medication, a balm for a wounded soul.
Jerry Sittser, in his book, A Grace Revealed, contends that circumstances play a limited role in your life. Your life is a story, but various circumstances are merely props in the story. Simply put, they provide scene and setting for the story of your life as it unfolds as a part of an even larger redemptive story arc. Don’t miss this: your story is a sub-story to a larger story.
Sittser recounts how early desert fathers and mothers sought to be spiritually ambidextrous. There are proactive and reactive aspects to life. You have to learn to respond and pivot. For example, I chose to proactively get married; but, I had to reactively rebound from the loss of my wife. These early desert fathers and mothers embraced prosperity—while seeking to avoid carelessness; and they embraced adversity—while seeking to avoid despair. Both prosperity and adversity act simply as the backdrop to and props on a stage on which God writes a beautiful redemptive story. In short, Sittser claims circumstances are neutral—like props, they simply provide scene and setting through which God redeems the story of your life. Further, your story is part of a larger, more important story arc, the redemptive story.
“Sometimes prosperity is tenfold more damaging to us than sharp adversity.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
On the surface, circumstances do not tell the whole story. William Cowper understood this neutrality regarding circumstances. In his hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” he states, “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace; behind a frowning providence he hides a smiling face.” This is so very helpful. The issue at hand is trust. Belief. Doggedly holding on by faith. Not sight. Not proof. It is feeble sense—temporally wise at best—to run from difficult circumstances. Instead, we should embrace the eternal nature and truth of God’s sufficient grace. Why? Because we know—by faith and not by sight—that what seems to look like a temporal frown hides an eternal smile.
“The clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head.” William Cowper, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
Dreaded clouds—any loss of any kind—are full of God’s every morning mercies. Stand by faith and allow the blessings of grace to burst open over your head. This truth delivers such comfort. Another way to say it, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never end, and they are new every single morning.
I can plant my feet on the foundation of his steadfast love.
Thomas Obediah Chisholm said it well when in the hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” he wrote, “Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.” He does not change.
Regardless of the circumstances you face, are you ambidextrous? Can you embrace prosperity without being careless? Can you embrace adversity without plummeting into despair?
There is no shadow of turning with God, regardless of the circumstances you face.
“‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee…Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—‘Great is Thy faithfulness,’ Lord, unto me!” Thomas Obediah Chisholm, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”