Sunday, November 01, 2015

"Ye Fearful Saints, Fresh Courage Take..." William Cowper, 1774

This Sunday many churches will celebrate a combined All Hallowed/Saints/Souls Day by singing, "For All the Saints", listening to the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, and by reciting the names of our beloved friends and families who have entered into God's kingdom while waiting for coffee hour to munch on candy left over from last night's trick or treating.

Our sense of loss over the death of friends and family is natural, but as Christians it is softened by the knowledge of the promise of forgiveness and of eternal life.

In spite of our intellectual knowledge that everything is part of God's plan, we are not comforted when someone near to us dies and we are offered the words, "It is part of God's plan" by a well-meaning friend.

God's plan usually remains hidden to most of us, especially during times of grief, but over time we can sometimes come to a better understanding of His intentions.

For this All Saints Day, I would offer up the following as we remember our loved ones along with the saints of old and as we ponder God's mysterious ways.

"God Moves in a Mysterious Way" from,

"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
- William Cowper, 1774
For those interested in learning more about William Cowper, here is a link which tells the story of his battle with mental illness, suicide attempts, interesting associations with important Christians of the time, and finally, his hymn writing. 

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