This song has ministered to me in different ways throughout the last year and a half. When I first heard it, I would play the track on repeat in my car and just let the lyrics wash over me;
“Though the storms may come and the winds may blow, I’ll remain steadfast. And let my heart learn, when You speak a word, it will come to pass."
These words anchored my soul as Jeff’s battle with cancer became more and more bleak. I remember sitting next to Jeff’s hospital bed on our last day together and having my phone chime to see that Jordan had sent me a link to this song – even though he didn’t know that I had been clinging to it for weeks.
“Great is Your faithfulness to me. Great is Your faithfulness to me. From the rising sun to the setting same I will praise Your name. Great is Your faithfulness to me.”
And then the unbelievable happened and as you all know, we have had to learn how to live these past 9 months without Jeff. The center of our little world and family.
I don’t want this post to be about me and my struggles. As a church, we have faced so much in the last year. I can’t imagine what it has been like for the Chilongo family to observe the one year anniversary of losing their precious 4 year old, Israel. There are many others with ongoing health battles; Many for which the looming threat of COVID-19 still remains a large deterrent from getting back to normal life. And so for all of us in one place or another, I want to speak from my heart and implore you, that these words are still true, more firm than anything else in life – great is His Faithfulness to you. Great is His faithfulness to us as a church body; though the earth may pass away, His word remains the same.
I have had to relearn how to sing these words and lean in to them all over again. It used to be straightforward, in a sense. We were clinging to hope and faith knowing that God’s heart for us was (and still is) for our good. But on the other side of loss and utter disappointment, it has been hard for me to sing, or even pray these words with complete transparency of heart. For the first several months of this year, I couldn’t come to God for anything. I never doubted or turned away, but I couldn’t ask him for protection over my kids; I couldn’t listen to songs singing
“all Your promises are yes and amen”;
I couldn’t do any of that without wanting to hold Him accountable for losing Jeff. This song challenged me in that exact area:
“I put my faith in Jesus, my anchor to the ground; my hope and firm foundation, He’ll never let me down”.
Any moment that I did feel the spark to worship again would be immediately extinguished by so simple a line as: He’ll never let me down. Because I did feel let down. I felt completely let down and confused and empty.
But as time has gone by, I am grateful for the Lord’s patience and grace for me. He waited with me, and His presence never left me. He continued to supply every need, big and small – some things so insignificant, I could only laugh that He would have even taken note of them. So at the very least, I was thankful. And that was a starting point.
“You’re the God of covenant, and of faithful promises. Time and time again, You have proven You’ll do just what You said.”
It took time for my heart and my logic to get on the same page; because logic told me that cancer is a real threat to be feared, but my heart told me that God is bigger and He knows the plans He has for us. And after losing Jeff, my brain literally couldn’t function from a place of spiritual understanding: the results simply didn’t add up to what we had been believing for with absolute certainty. And my only solace has been that it doesn’t add up, and its not meant to. We were never meant to live in a world where we lose loved ones, or we see those closest to us experiencing trauma or pain.
I have come to realize that if I continue to search to understand it all, I will lose out on knowing Him more. Because faith leads to deeper relationship, and deeper relationship leads to greater faith and on and on it goes. So I let go my desire to understand and I fix my eyes on Him. When I do sing these words, I don’t ignore the hurt, I bring it in with me. I am no theological expert, but to me this is part of what worshipping in spirit and in truth means (John 4:24); that we come to Him by way of the Holy Spirit, but we don’t leave the truth at the door. Though our spirits cry out to Him longing for connection, the reality of the world we live in is often crying out too – whether it be in physical pain or emotional disappointment, or joy and thankfulness. And the thing is, He is able to handle it all.
I still feel let down at times. God could have healed Jeff. And on this side of Heaven, I will never know why he didn’t. The hurt and pain still overwhelms me. But I must continue to believe that my life is built on something greater than what I am capable of understanding. If the Bible says that God is good, His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5) then I must believe it. Furthermore, who am I to question it? Who am I, to feel hard done by, in light of all that He has done? That the creator of the universe would make covenant with me for my life and salvation; that although I lost something so dear, I have comfort in knowing the Eternal Keeper. That He proves himself to us over and over again. So though the storms may come, and the winds will blow, let us remain steadfast. As Matthew 7:25 states “the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock”. Let us hold firmly to the One that hung on the cross for our sins; the One who gave His body to have our communion with Him and the One who has a place waiting for us with Him in eternity. The one who is faithful in keeping you, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Amen.