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Sunday, November 20, 2016
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
for I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
John Rippon’s “How Firm a Foundation”
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
Many of us are familiar with the story of Jesus walking on water and Peter’s failed attempt to do the same. We, like Peter, are called out into the deep, chaotic waters of our lives, and we’re asked to swim. This process is rarely fun (as anyone who swims for exercise knows), but it is in that act of swimming that we build our strength and endurance in a way that prepares us for the twists and turns that lie on the paths before us.
In his well-known hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” John Rippon paints a wonderful picture of how God challenges us in life without allowing us to be overcome. Water imagery is present as well as fire in the following verse, both of which represent some of the tests that we will undergo in this life. What strikes me, however, is that God’s presence is promised to be nearby through it all—just like Peter being pulled back out of the water by Jesus when it becomes too much for him. Following God does not mean that we will live lives untouched by pain, hurt, or loneliness; it does, however, mean that we will always have someone by our side during those trials, even when those challenges threaten to overwhelm.
Dear God, in the seasons of my life when I feel as if I’m in over my head, may you remind that you are there with me every step of the way. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
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