by David Phelps
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa
I was cleaning out the basement one day not long ago when I found an old directory for our church. As these things go, it was fairly old—it dated from about six pastors ago. At the time the directory was printed, our daughter hadn’t been born, nor had a good many other kids in our church. A number of regular members hadn’t started attending yet. Some popular couples hadn’t met yet, much less gotten married. Of course, everyone looked different. There was more hair and it was different colors, mostly darker. And even though I’m currently in my 15th year of writing Person-2-Person, at that time I hadn’t even started yet.
In my own case, while my wife, Charlotte, and I were married our daughter, Monica, hadn’t even been dreamed of yet. Considering that she’s sixteen-and-a-half now, it sometimes seems like she’s been a part of our lives forever and it’s hard to remember a time when she wasn’t. And of course, as much as I hate to admit it, my own hair was darker back then as well, even though I seem to have pretty much the same amount.
But even though we might change, God does not. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8 ESV). Our salvation is guaranteed. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,” (Isa. 59:1a ESV). This guarantee is not from us or from some person but from God, who “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9b ESV). We can depend on God’s promises. The prophet Balaam said, “God is not man, that he should lie,” (Num. 23:19a ESV). God’s word is true and God will endure forever. Isaiah wrote, “The Lord is the everlasting God,” (Isa. 40:28b ESV).
God preserves and protects God’s people. The prophet Malachi declared, “‘For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.’” (Mal. 3:6 ESV). In spite of circumstances, we are not “consumed” by the world around us. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isa. 40:8 ESV). Whatever God does will not be thwarted by any purpose, force, or opposition on Earth or in the heavens (Rom. 8:38-39). The author of Proverbs wrote,
“. . . itis the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Prov. 19:21 ESV).
As I was writing this, I thought of the marvelous old hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Thomas O. Chisholm wrote the words in 1923 yet they remain true today. Chisholm based the hymn—which was originally a poem—on Lamentations 3:22-23: “His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” (KJV). The verses echo this theme. The first verse quotes James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (KJV). The second verse recalls the change of seasons, the “Sun, moon and stars” and God’s unending “faithfulness, mercy and love.” Finally, the third and last verse speaks of “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” which is surely available to all who believe.
There are people all around each of us who need “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” who are overcome by life’s trials. They need to know that someone will be there for them. They need to know what you and I already know. You and I can set an example. How we respond to trials—whether with quiet faith and grace or by falling apart—will show them whether what we believe is real. If they see God’s Spirit in us, they will be moved to listen when we share our faith.
“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 will be.”
(“Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” vs. 1, words by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923.)