Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Hymn Series

June 1, 2021  - By Jessica Mathisen

This article is part of our Hymn Series, releasing throughout the month of June leading up to the launch of our new Be Still collection. Rooted in praise to the Lord, hymns have a way of helping us slow down to really reflect on and appreciate truths about God and the gospel as we sing the lyrics and meditate on their meaning. It is our prayer that the new resources in the Be Still collection would do the same. The Be Still collection features a hymn-themed stationery set, a brand new Be Still & Know study on the Christ hymns of Colossians and Philippians, and updated versions of our Be Still & Know: Romans 12:9–21 and Be Still & Know: Ephesians 4:17–32 studies. Find these products in the Well-Watered Co. beginning on Wednesday, June 16th!

Sometimes it feels like change is the only constant in our lives. Right now, our family is in a season of transition. I’m leaving my job to start a nonprofit ministry. My oldest will be a senior in high school this fall. And we have a baby girl on the way. There are many nights I lie awake, worrying about finances and other looming decisions at hand. My mind races with a myriad of questions. They seem so big and scary in the quiet of the night.

Anytime I sing the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” I can’t help but cry. I become overwhelmed by the unchanging character of God. I grew up in a Christian home in the suburbs of Atlanta. We never experienced a season of want. But there were several painful circumstances that chipped away at my childlike faith in God as a faithful Heavenly Father. Sexual abuse, rejection, and insecurities laid a foundation for a heart that doubted the faithfulness of God.

Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow

I remember my parents listening to their favorite worship music in the car, frequently playing a particular song over and over. I was usually annoyed by the time the track played for the third time in a row, wishing we could just listen to NSYNC. But when I experienced heartache and pain that I thought would be my undoing, their passion for singing the same songs over and over began to make sense. 

When you’re in the midst of heartache and anxiety that feels unrelenting, it can be hard to open the Bible and read the promises of God. But to sing those same promises over yourself? Sometimes that feels less heavy and more doable. When we lift our voice in praise to him, we remind our souls of the truth that we need to hear. We begin to fix our eyes on what is good and true instead of focusing on being afraid of what may or may not come to pass. 

A faithful God is not a fairy godmother who waves a magic wand over each situation, making it easy and pain-free. No, a faithful God is one who walks with us through the difficulties and gives us the grace to lean on him. He gives us grace upon grace for our sin. He deals patiently with us and brings us peace when we come to him and confess our failings (1 John 1:9). When we go to him with our fears, he draws near to us and reminds us of who he is (James 4:8). This is the “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”—the understanding that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:8).

Thine Own Dear Presence to Cheer and to Guide

Most of our fears are rooted in a lack of belief that God is who he says he is. But the choice to sing to him and remind ourselves of his faithfulness brings belief to the forefront and pushes back against the unbelief. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat is in the middle of a battle that seems insurmountable. He is up against a large army that is more than capable of bringing defeat and destruction to the people of Judah.

When Jehoshaphat seeks the Lord and asks him for wisdom as to how to lead well, the prophet Zechariah’s son Jahaziel tells him, along with the people of Judah, “…Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem’” (2 Chron. 20:15,17).

Can you imagine how Jehoshaphat must have felt? He undoubtedly wanted a battle strategy that would enable him to bring crushing defeat upon the enemy, and the Lord clearly instructed him through the words of Jahaziel to worship. In verses 18–23, Jehoshaphat bows his head in prayer, beseeching God for wisdom. The people of Judah and Jerusalem follow suit and begin to worship the Lord, and when they lift their voices in praise, their enemies turn on one another and destroy each other! Can you even imagine their delight to see that their enemies defeated one another?

A Peace That Endureth

Worship brings peace in the midst of our chaos, and it also drives the enemy of our souls absolutely mad. Earlier in the text, as Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord, he said, “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

The trials and uncertainties of our lives can lead us to look down and believe the lie that this life is all there is. But the truth is that the reality of heaven is closer than we think, and our faithful God is with us—if only we look up to him.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

The struggles our family is going through right now seem heavy and taxing. But the more I rehearse his faithfulness to us in the past, the lighter I feel. For it is in his faithfulness that I see the beauty of surrender and remember that he can be trusted in all things. Sister, if your heart is heavy today, turn to him and remember his faithfulness in the past. This simple act will bring confidence to your heart. What will you choose to remember today? As you meditate on the words of the hymn below, I pray that it will stir your affections toward our faithful God.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Lyrics: Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)

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

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

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

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

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

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