I can remember a friend teasing me about being an “old soul” when I was not much more than 10 years old. Always curious about what was going on in the world, stories of deep human trauma and suffering would stay with me. Years later, that tendency has remained, with awareness of global events made easy by Internet connectivity. I’ve been thinking about the fear and uncertainty that hovered over many nations, including Canada, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stories that emerged during that season. Millions of people did live through the unthinkable—contracting and dying of the disease, or seeing loved ones suffer or die after falling ill. Many others live with the difficulties of prolonged illness after initial contraction of the virus. And the uncertainties have kept coming, tempting us back towards fear. But God has continued to work in ways that give us opportunities to share the reason for the hope we have.
This is the first issue of testimony/Enrich to be prepared and published since the World Health Organization officially declared that the pandemic is no longer a global emergency. As a Fellowship in mission together, we have remained committed to our local church and ministry contexts, and to making Christ’s love and presence felt in the communities we serve. In a strange season of readjustment, I can acknowledge that God has been faithful to deliver me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4). That said, the season has not been without its challenges, as has been the reality for most of us. And I think of those still waiting for deliverance. As I work through my own new scenarios, I am reminded that in Christ, we are all still “on assignment.” We have a nearly indescribable treasure to share with others who don’t have hope for their own troubles. We know that God’s Spirit has spoken to us and continues to speak through us. The promises of God we have held on to, especially through the unpredictable shaking we felt for nearly three years, are still ours to pass on to those feeling despair about both the present and the future. The environment for conversation about the things on our hearts and minds may feel more hostile, and the opportunity for disagreement may cause us to want to shrink back—but God’s power to work through our words, actions, and mere availability remains. We can stand in the gap for those who want to give up, and plant seeds of faith that will grow in ways we can’t always see.
“Great is Thy Faithfulness” recently bubbled up out of my heart into song, a reminder of so many timeless things we can all take comfort in. I don’t quite know where it came from—it’s not a tune I’ve sung regularly or heard recently. I attribute it to the work of the Holy Spirit as a reminder to me. Our responses to a post-pandemic season and our changing times will be as different as our fingerprints, yet the lyrics of this song can bring anyone who pauses to consider them the courage to continue if they lack it. Could the songwriters have known how much hope the lyrics and music would bring to millions of people, even all these many years later? That God doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 40:8); that His rule of the universe can never be challenged (2 Chronicles 20:6; Colossians 1:16; Psalm 147:4-5; Isaiah 40:28-31); that we can always find forgiveness when we need it (1 John 1:9; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 5:7; Colossians 1:13-14); that as He guides the affairs of the universe (Colossians 1:17), He still sees and provides for each one of us according to our practical and spiritual needs (Matthew 10:29-30; Isaiah 41:13, 43:2; Psalm 23:1-3); that as we struggle or wrestle with our circumstances, His Spirit can be relied on “to cheer and to guide” (Psalm 94:19; John 14:26; Isaiah 61:3). As it was for those songwriters, so it is for us—we can’t know the full scope of what God is doing with our faithful witness, but we will be glad when it is fully revealed.
When fear of what the future may hold creeps up again, I find deep comfort in reflecting on God’s faithfulness in the lives of the elders I am blessed to have in my life. Now that those in their 90s have passed on, I embrace the wisdom I still have access to from those in their 70s and 80s. Encouragements to pray, read the Word, and trust God (sound familiar?). To speak words of faith, not of calamity. To invest in the wisdom that only God can offer for our times. To trust that in all things, God is close, and that as we get older, we can’t help but see His goodness more and more evident in our lives—because all things work together for the good of those He has called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And that means each of us who have responded “Yes!” to Jesus. Saying “Yes” is a never-ending exercise, as each request for obedience seems to be greater than the last. But it is always worth it to say “Yes.”
“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 has been thou forever wilt be.
Refrain: 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!
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.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”
1. Words by Thomas O. Chisholm, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” 1923, public domain.
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