“’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.” Thomas O. Chisholm, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”
I am so conflicted right now. I would never wish loss on anyone. I would never hope for someone to experience tragedy or disaster. Who among us would seek out trouble? However, once loss, tragedy, or trouble visits you, prepare to be overwhelmed by what God does for you during your loss.
“Even in our struggles, God lays out signposts along our journey, reminding us of His faithfulness.” Matt Carter, The Long Walk Home
There’s a nugget in Psalm 89 that jumped off the page and is a case-in-point example for this lesson of how God overwhelms you in loss. He overwhelms you with his goodness. He overwhelms you with his presence. You’ve been given a painful gift that leads you to hear his voice in clarity and in power. To underscore these lessons more, this psalm was written during great trouble and served God’s people during exile and captivity in Babylon. Days of great trial.
One morning as I was reading through Psalm 89, six life-giving lessons flowed off of the page and into my heart. My heart became confident and instantly filled to overflowing with reinforced, reinvigorated faith.
“…I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie…” Psalm 89:33-35
1. God will not remove his steadfast love.
This lesson that God’s love stays with us is one of the clearest of all. I’ve been surrounded by the steadfast lovingkindness of God. He’s blessed me in so many ways. Now, don’t hear that I like what happened to me. But I’m watching God care for me in the trial.
Even in pain—especially in pain—he does not remove his steadfast love.
2. God will not be false to his faithfulness.
We overcomplicate humanity’s response to the gospel. It’s simply an issue of faith. Either you’ve been given capacity for faith or you haven’t been given capacity for faith. To be clear, faith is a gift itself. We don’t earn salvation; and even though it’s by faith and not by works, even faith is a mysterious gift. And that mystery is what complicates it for so many. Some want answers. I understand the desire for proof. I get it. But that would no longer be faith.
That said, this gift from Psalm 89 enthused me. My faith is dependent upon him. My faith is a gift from him. My faith is only as good as he is—the object of my faith.
Let this sink in: he will not be false to his faithfulness.
3. God will not violate his covenant.
The Good News is about promises made and kept. God entered into covenant with us. He initiated it. There are weeks and weeks of study we could do on this idea of covenant alone. He can’t be false to his faithfulness, and he cannot violate his covenant.
He’s committed himself.
4. God will not alter his word.
Some of us wish we knew more. Theologians debate the veracity of the Bible. Psalm 89 doesn’t debate it. In this chapter—like so many other chapters—the words spoken by God assume them to be true. And here he promises that he will not alter his word. Promises will be kept. Prophesies will come to pass. The end will come. People from every nation will be around his throne.
He will be with you through every trial.
5. God swears by his holiness.
Some of us are hard-headed. We aren’t quick to catch on. We doubt his love, faithfulness, covenant, and his word. So God swears on his own holiness.
God can swear by nothing more convincingly than his own holy nature.
6. God will not lie.
If the case for faith is not yet made, God adds that he will not lie. Psalm 119:160 states emphatically, “The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” God will not lie.
He is by nature truth.
These brief verses in Psalm 89 are strong reminders that God will remain steadfast in his love, he will be faithful and keep his covenant. He will keep his word and he will not lie. He can be trusted to be true to his faithfulness. These gifts from Psalm 89 are crystal clear from within my experience of loss.
“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.” Hebrews 6:17-18