Friday, December 5, 2008

How Firm a Foundation by Robert Keen

How Firm a Foundation

How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea—
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
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, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E’en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov’reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
--Robert Keen

One of Heather's friends, Lindsay Kale Hilty has been writing a series of articles on mental health issues She is looking for ideas to put in a Bible Study book for those suffering from depression. I wrote her an email, and as these things so often do, it turned into something appropriate to post on my blog. So here it is!

One of my favorites is a scene from the story of Mary and Elisabeth in Luke Chapter 1:

41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Elisabeth's name means "God will build you a house" or translated another way, "God will give you sons and daughters (a household)." Elisabeth knew that part of the covenant God made with Abraham, and through him, the whole house of Israel was that he would give them the promised land, and children as numberless as the sands of the sea.

Gen. 26: 4
And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;

Elizabeth's very name reminded her that God promised her children. Yet for so many years, she was barren. All the same, when she heard the news, she believed (it was her husband who needed a sign).

In verse 45, she says (paraphrased), "God keeps his promises to those who believe." Then Mary expands on the idea saying, "he has truly blessed me, and with this baby, he will bless the whole world. He's fulfilling his covenant with Abraham that through his seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed."

During the years when my life seemed so hard, and I didn't have the things I wanted, the things that God had promised me -- a loving faithful husband, children to raise and teach about Him, and the health I need to be able to accomplish His plans for me -- I read this section and said to myself, "God keeps his promises. God will build you a house. It may not be on the schedule you hope for, but Blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. It will happen one day." And it did -- I have a loving husband and a beautiful daughter -- named Elizabeth.

And it's not just the promise of a family that he'll keep. There are SOOOO many others. One of my favorite hymns lists several that I have clung to in moments of despair (see poem above). Each of the promises in it come from the scriptures. For instance:

Isa. 41: 10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Much of my Bible study while depressed consists of looking for these promises in scripture, and reaffirming to myself that they will indeed be fulfilled -- maybe not on my time table, but they'll happen nonetheless.

1 comment:

  1. That's my one hymn that I can play on the piano. I can't remember why I picked that one.