Hump Day Hymns: What God Ordains is Always Good

What God ordains is always good;
His will abideth holy.
As He directs my life for me,
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In every need
Doth well know how to shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good.
He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His own right way,
And never will He leave me.
I take my content What He hath sent;
His hand that sends me sadness
Will turn my tears to gladness.

What God ordains is always good.
His loving tho’t attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.
My God is true; Each morn a-new
I’ll trust His grace unending.
My life to Him commending.

What God ordains is always good.
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Tho’ many storms may gather.
Now I may know Both Joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good.
Though I the cup am drinking
What savors now of bitterness,
I take it without shrinking.
For after grief God grants relief,
My heart with comfort filling
And all my sorrow stilling.

What God ordains is always good.
This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, For with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.
-Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708), Translation, composite.

Just yesterday, a 35 year old man was shot and killed not too far from our neighborhood.  Small children go to school with their shoes on the wrong feet, or with no shoes at all, because their parents are either (or perhaps both) too apathetic or already strung out on something to get them ready for school. Whole families have to live in homes with no electric and no heat because their landlord won’t fix the gas leaks and the they are stuck with a bill that they cannot pay. A young boy sitting on his porch at home becomes caught in the cross fire of a gang dispute.

More than anything else, ministry in the inner city has challenged my belief in the sovereignty of God. I often have a hard time reconciling what I see and experience with the idea that God is completely sovereign over the world — completely in control.  The tradition that I am a part of places a large emphasis on the doctrine sovereignty of God. So often I look around me and wonder, if God is in control, why are things so messed up? How can any good come out of this?  I, in fact, live in the city that Jeffrey Dahmer lived and where he committed his murders. How can there be any good in this?

* * *

When I am asked, “how can you possibly believe in God?” I just shrug my shoulders and tell that my faith is not logical. Faith involves the mind, but it lives somewhere far deeper, somewhere with more fertile soul for the seeds of faith to take root and grow.

Similarly, how can God be in control when all of these bad and horrible things happen? I struggle with this, I really do. My belief in God is not rational and it is not logical.  I didn’t sit down and write a pros and cons list.  No one presented compelling reasons to believe in God.  My belief in God is much deeper, in a primal place of my being — and as I understand it, it was placed there by God.

Similarly, the sovereignty of God is something that I, at times, struggle with, because it, too, is seated not in the intellect, but in this deeper place.

I believe in the sovereignty of God not because it is easy, or because it always makes sense with my everyday life. I believe in the sovereignty of God because I have to — not because others force me to, but because in my innermost being, I cannot not believe in the sovereignty of God. I do think that the scriptures are the source for this, but I believe in this because I have to in order to live.  Without the trust that God can take the messed up things in the world and work them for good, without the trust that God is in control, without the trust that God knows more and is more powerful than me and my understanding, I could not continue to live.  I would have no reason to. I would be overwhelmed by despair.

For me, the sovereignty of God is difficult to combine with what I see around me, but it is the only way that I can have hope for a good and better future. Sometimes, I have found that it is better for me to yield before the mystery. Even when I don’t understand it, even when it doesn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever, I find it helpful to place myself at the mercy of the mystery of the divine.

What God ordains is always good.
This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, For with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me.

3 thoughts on “Hump Day Hymns: What God Ordains is Always Good

  1. Jeannie

    I have found these last few reflections very meaningful. For 15 yrs part of the faith tradition I think you speak of (Reformed? I haven’t read your blog that long so I’m not sure?) which emphasizes God’s sovereignty, and one of the reasons I no longer am, is that I felt that emphasis sometimes left no room for me in the relationship between me & God. (If God does it all, what am I here for?) Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up from childhood in that tradition — ultimately it just didn’t fit me. And yet I totally agree with everything you say about needing to believe it. I know it’s not logical or rational but I have to believe that God is in control, that God is good, that God IS, even –in the same way as I have to breathe: without that faith, I wouldn’t have any reason to go on. I don’t know what else to say, but just that this really spoke to me deeply. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Jeannie

      oops, should’ve read it over before pressing send 🙂
      I meant “For 15 years I was part of the faith tradition…”

      Reply
    2. Matthew van Maastricht Post author

      Jeannie,
      It has been so wonderful to have you reading and commenting.

      I am in a Reformed tradition. I have actually heard some people take this doctrine so far to argue that what we do doesn’t really matter, that praying doesn’t really do anything. This is too far, and I think unbiblical. On some level though too, I find this doctrine comforting because I don’t have to feel as though the whole world depends on me. Even when I mess up, God can use that for good.

      Thank you for sharing!

      Reply

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