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.
Thomas Chisholm 1923, 1996 BoP 324
This is one of my very favourite hymns, one that I regularly find myself humming or singing under my breath. In many ways it sums up, not just my experience of God, but the fullness of that experience. The key line, “All I have needed thy hand hath provided,” reminds me of the nature of God’s providence.
Scripturally, this hymn is aligned with Lamentations 3:22-24 (NRSV)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
This is not commonly known as an Easter scripture. Great is Thy Faithfulness is not an Easter hymn. Yet, this hymn and scripture sum up this Easter for me.
A year ago we naively believed that we might be back in our churches by Easter, then Pentecost, and then September, or Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Although we have been back in our buildings in fits and starts, we are still not all together in worship as we want to be. And now we find ourselves again in Holy Week, fully caught up in the paradox of Easter, simultaneously celebrating an event in our past; the resurrection, and anticipating an event in our future; Christ’s coming again.
This paradox is always a part of our faith, but at certain times it takes on a particular importance. Faced with the sickness or death of a loved one, times of war, times of fear or trouble; it is in these times that we most firmly embrace the assurance of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus while most anxiously awaiting a better time. The author of Lamentations says it so beautifully; that because of God’s love we are not consumed AND that God’s compassions are always new – and we do wait for the Lord.
This Easter we gather in that same assurance. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.” Because of Christ’s great love on the cross we are not consumed. Because of the Spirit’s presence over this past year we are not consumed.
Because of the Christ’s great love in the empty tomb we have hope; hope for eternity, hope for salvation, and today – hope for a better brighter day.
In and out of the church, this season is our season of hope. It is the hope of our faith. It is the hope of the vaccines. It is the hope to be close to family and friends. It is the hope to be together in worship again. It is the hope that this will happen soon.
In his famous hymn, Thomas Chisholm summed it up this way:
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow:
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
This is our Easter wish, that in this season, in the events of this week, that you might find strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Great is God’s faithfulness.
A blessed and joyful Easter to you all,
John-Peter & Tori Smit
Click here for a youtube recording of the hymn ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’