How Firm a Foundation

“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.”
From Jesus’ parable about houses built on rock and sand (Matthew 7:24) come the lyrics for the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”.  This hymn encourages us to examine our own foundations of faith by trusting that God is always with us, even during the most challenging seasons and situations in our lives.
Most all of us have experienced moments when it feels like God has abandoned us — times of loss, crisis, or uncertainty. The Bible is filled with voices sharing that exact same sentiment, ranging from Psalms to Lamentations, Jeremiah to Acts. Yet even in those moments, we hear these disciples, prophets, and psalmists trying to assure us to stay calm, not to worry and remember that God is indeed with us, even “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4).
We may never know what inspired this hymn’s anonymous author to write such a powerful statement of trust — but the framing of the lyrics as a series of God-given promises helps underscore one of the crucial messages of the gospel: God’s Holy Spirit is always with us, even in moments when our faith may waver.
If you are going through a season in your life right now when God feels distant, I hope you remember you are in good company with countless authors and figures from the biblical text! But may we — like they — come to know deep in our hearts that God “will be near thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”
Almighty God, even in deep waters and fiery trials, help me trust that your love will never let me go. For that, I give you thanks and praise. Amen!
Jim Kerner