Has God ever spoke to you through nature? Have you ever marveled at the faithfulness of God? If so, then you may enjoy this article on the hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness.”
I remember specifically the day when the song spoke to me. It was many years ago. I was at my mom and dad’s house in Union City, Michigan. My heart was overwhelmed with the slowness of what was happening in my life. I had been in prayer as I walked along the Saint Joseph River. It was a beautiful sun filled day. You could hear the birds. You could sense the majestic peace of nature. And as I was worshiping, the peace of God came over me.
I had sat down and was watching the river, and I was watching a leaf caught in a swirl of water. Somehow this leaf was stuck caught in a circular current, not going anywhere. And so after about 10 minutes of watching this leaf, I said to God, “God I feel a little like that leaf. All the other leaves going by. But that leaf is me Lord, when I can I go and move toward my destiny?
I no sooner prayed that prayer when all of a sudden, the leaf broke out of the pattern and deown the stream it went. In my silent meditation that day, it seemed as if the Spirit was saying, trust me with your life for I am faithful. And I began to sing this hymn to the Lord that day, with renewed assurance as I trusted in Him for his timing in my life. My heart was moved as I thought about His faithfulness. As I sang, “Great is thy Faithfulness” I felt God speaking through nature to cheer and to guide my life.
I want you to know today, that if you have given your life to Jesus Christ. You serve a faithful God.
It is interesting that the author of this hymn, “Great is thy Faithfulness” wrote the hymn with three concepts in mind.
This hymn is based first of all on Lamentations 3:22-23
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.”
One of the powerful phrases of the first verse comes directly from this verse.
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.
And then the chorus says,
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
Now the book of Lamentations is hardly a place where you would find such a scriptural gem. Jeremiah wrote this book after the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a book that describes some of the most difficult moments in all of Jewish history. Yet because Jeremiah knows God, he is able to make these declarations that God’s mercies are new every morning, and that His compassions fail not.
As we understand what Jeremiah is saying in context and apply it to our own life, he is saying that at the worst moment of your life-at the most difficult hour. God is going to be faithful. Even when things are messed up in your life. Even when you have brought it on yourself like the Jews did in the book of Lamentations. God is faithful. His love and mercy and compassion will be renewed with each day.
The second concept the author used as a basis for this beautiful hymn is the…
Verse one also contains these precious words:
Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not…
The faithfulness of God is different from the faithfulness of men. Men and women can change. But God does not change. The scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) In the Old Testament. Malachi writes, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6)
Humans can change. It is possible that an unfaithful man can become faithful. And it is also possible that a faithful man can become unfaithful. But the very nature of God is that He is unchanging. The theological word used to describe this aspect of God is that He is immutable. He will not change.
There is no shadow of turning with him. This phrase comes from James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” Your shadow changes length as the sun gets lower in the sky. Your shadow could be a foot long or it could be 15 feet depending on where the sun is.
The immutability of God has many practical implications that encourage our faith. The same God who helped you when you were fifteen will help you when you are eighty-five. The same God who heard your grandfather’s cry is the same God that will hear your grandson’s cry. In other words, the unchanging nature of God translates into absolute faithfulness.
And then the third concept the author used as a basis for this song is seen…
Since God is the creator of all that we see, His faithfulness is seen even in the world around us.
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
The faithfulness of God is one of his invisible qualities that can be seen by the environment he created. We have a friend named Carrie, and her house is decorated in every room with beautiful plaques and pictures, all with verses on them. Without even knowing Carrie in a personal way, just by walking through her house, you can discern an invisible quality that she is person of the Word. It is the same way with God, His invisible qualities are seen by the environment He created.
Romans 1:20 NIV “or since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Nature reveals the invisible qualities of God. The different variety of foods show us the love of God for humanity. The power of a seed when it is planted and multiplies show his generousness.
All creation shows his faithfulness. The fact is that the sun will come out tomorrow. The rain that falls to bring forth flowers and crops and refresh the earth shows His faithfulness. You can see his faithfulness in the way the birds get fed. You see his splendor in the Grand Canyon, or a fresh fallen snow, or the beauty of autumn leaves.
If you don’t like the season you are in, that’s okay because the next season will be faithful to come. His faithfulness is seen in the universe. The incredible way the planets circle the sun, the milky way, the orbit of the moon at night. All set into motion in glorious splendor by the hand of the creator God.
I want to give you five things that God will be faithful to do in your life.
- GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FORGIVE SINS WHEN THEY ARE CONFESSED
The final verse of this hymn says:
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
That pardon for sin was purchased by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. He was faithful to humble himself, become a man, live a sin free life, go to cross, shed his blood, and pay the penalty for sin. Without His faithfulness, we would not have the wonderful benefit of being forgiven. We would not have pardon for sin or a peace that endures.
I am so grateful Jesus was faithful to do what God desired. His faithfulness has produced a huge benefit for you and for me.
We can be assured that when we confess our sins, pardon will be granted, and forgiveness given. John writes in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The good news is when first come to Christ and confess our sins, He forgives. He pardons. He accepts us and we can become His disciples. As life goes on, it is certain that we need to come to God and confess our shortcomings and failings and sins. But we can be assured that God is faithful and will forgive.
- GOD IS FAITH TO NOT ALLOW YOU TO BE TEMPTED BEYOND WHAT YOU ARE ABLE
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
This is only an encouraging scripture if you are trying to live a life that is free. If you are the type of person that really doesn’t care about how you live. It may feel like this verse brings condemnation. Because it says, you didn’t have to yield to temptation, you could have found a way of escape. But I assure you that this verse was not meant to make you feel bad or discourage you.
It was intended to show you that your faithful God is right there with you. He won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. The faithful God will always provide to you a way of escape. Escape may mean not going to certain places, leaving certain situations, closing your eyes, shutting off the computer, turning the TV channel, pouring it down the drain, changing jobs, whatever is necessary. But the beautiful thing to remember is that when temptation comes, the faithful God is in the battle with you.
- GOD IS FAITHFUL TO COMPLETE THE WORK HE STARTED IN YOU
You may not realize this, but the moment you sincerely gave your life to Jesus Christ. God enrolled you in his plan. His plan for you is your ultimate transformation. He desires for you to become like Jesus Christ. God’s goal is that you would become mature and complete. His plan for you is that you would walk in victory.
Here are some things to consider. God finishes what He starts. God didn’t get halfway through creation and then give up. Rather, in six days he created the earth and the heavens and on the seventh day he rested. He looked at what he did and he said it was good.
Jesus didn’t go halfway to Calvary and then cast the cross aside and say I won’t complete my mission. He went all the way until he was able to utter those beautiful words on the cross, “It is finished!”
When he saved you. He said I am going to complete the work I began. Philippians 1:6 NLT “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
There are many believers that are in a position to say the following: I may not be all that I should be. I am not what I used to be. I am still under construction. God is not done with me.
That is the devil will tell you: If you mess up, God doesn’t love you. If you struggle, you are not His child. He will tell you God has left you, and that you will never see heaven. I want to tell you that the devil is a liar!
God is faithful. If he saved you. He can sanctify you. In other words, He can set you apart for his purposes.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
God will finish the work that he started in you. He will do that as you are exposed to the Word, as you receive the promptings of the Spirit, He will continue working in your life. God has His ways to move us toward becoming like Him. He will chasten you, disciplining you by the consequences of your own misdeeds. But don’t be discouraged if this happens to you, but rather realize that you are His son or daughter and He is chastening you for your benefit.
God will complete the work. 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 “who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- GOD IS FAITHFUL TO PROVIDE YOUR NEEDS
Great is thy Faithfulness, Great is thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
Philippians 4:19 “My God shall supply all of your needs according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.”
He is your provider. Just think of his faithfulness. He feeds the birds. He provides food for the oxen. The flowers of the field are more beautiful than Solomon in all his splendor. He is the faithful God.
I have news for you. Jesus didn’t die for a sparrow. Jesus didn’t give his life for a plant. How much more valuable are you to him?
What father or mother doesn’t do all they can to provide for their children. I will assure you that God is a faithful provider.
- GOD IS FAITHFUL TO GO WITH YOU EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
The author of this beautiful hymn really pulled out all the stops as he wrote this last verse. He alludes to three of the most beautiful things our relationship to a faithful God provides us.
First, His own presence to cheer and to guide. We all know the theological fact of the omnipresence of God. But this is not what the author was referring to. He was referring to the manifested presence of God in the life of the believer. As we connect with Him on a daily basis, his hand guide our life. We sense God cheering us on. He becomes our biggest fan. He is telling us by His Spirit, I am with you! You will make it to the end. If we need guidance, God can lead us.
And then the author says, strength for today. God knows how to give us strength no matter what the circumstances.
Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
And finally, the author speaks of hope for tomorrow. Yes, we have many hopes in this life, that we will get the house paid for, that we will retire, maybe we will travel. These are all wonderful hopes. But those hopes fade in comparison with the hope of heaven, with seeing our loved ones again.
God will be faithful to walk with you every step of the way!
Great is thy faithfulness!