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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, May 22, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

“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.”

“How Firm a Foundation” (vv. 3–4)
from John Rippon's A Selection of Hymns (1787)
Hymn 463, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Reflection
I had not paid much attention to these two verses of this hymn until now, but in the midst of this quarantine, I was particularly moved by some of the imagery.

In these verses, the writer is speaking in the voice of God with some powerful scriptural images:

“for I will be near thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

“the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

Despite feelings of “deepest distress,” I have certainly felt God’s presence with me in this time. In fact, I would say that I have even experienced times when it feels like God is working to “sanctify” my deepest distress.

The “flames” of this time of quarantine and social distancing have certainly been like a refiner’s fire. Even my unique ministry at Fourth Church has been transformed in many—mostly good—ways as I connect with members to get to know them better and discover how we will work together as a faith community going forward.

There is no doubt that our future in the faith will be different on the other side of this refiner’s fire of a quarantine, as the “dross” will be consumed and the precious gold refined. Fourth Church is already discovering new ways to “be the church.” Our online worship has flourished, and new people from all over the country are worshiping with us.

I am convinced that, on the other side of all of these trials, our mission as a light in the city will continue to be refined into the golden gem of a ministry God intends for us.

Prayer
Refine us, God, with your grace and love so that we may become what we truly are—a precious gem resting securely in your grace! Amen.

Written by Stuart Jamieson, Major and Planned Giving Officer

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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