Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is thy faithfulness

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.

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!

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.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

You don’t need to be rescued from life-threatening danger or see God’s miraculous provision in the direst of financial crises to truly know the faithfulness of the Lord.  God remains faithful day in and day out in the largest and smallest of circumstances.

I am sure this particular hymn is a beloved and favourite of many. It has been mine as well as my wife’s for years. This song was sung at our wedding and subsequently on many thanks giving occasions in our lives since. Contrary to some older hymns that are no longer sung frequently in today’s churches, this hymn continues to be a part of the modern church today. How many versions of this hymn have you noticed on Youtube? Numerous indeed.

Well, the inspiration of this hymn comes from the Scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23 which reads “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

This lovely hymn was written by Thomas Obadiah Chisolm (1866-1960). He had a difficult adult life. His health was so fragile that there were periods of time when he was confined to bed, unable to work. Between bouts of illness he would have to push himself to put in extra hours at various jobs in order to make ends meet.

Thomas Chisholm was born from humble background. It is said that he was born in a log cabin in Franklin, Kentucky and became a Christian when he was twenty-seven and entered the ministry when he was thirty-six, though poor health forced him to retire after just one year.

After coming to Christ at age 27, Thomas found great comfort in the Scriptures, and in the fact that God was faithful to be his strength in time of illness and provide his needs. Lamentations 3:22-23 was one of his favorite scriptures: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”

Thomas Chisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. While away from home on a missions trip, Thomas often wrote to one of his good friends, William Runyan, a relatively unknown musician. Several poems were exchanged in these letters. Runyan found one of Williams’ poems so moving that he decided to compose a musical score to accompany the lyrics. Great is Thy Faithfulness was published in 1923. For several years ,the hymn got very little recognition, until it was discovered by a Moody Bible Institute professor who loved it so much and requested it sung so often at chapel services, that the song became the unofficial theme song of the college. It was not until 1945 when George Beverly Shea began to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness at the Billy Graham evangelistic crusades, that the hymn was heard around the world.
During the rest of his life, Chisholm spent many years living in New Jersey and working as a life insurance agent.  Still, even with a desk job, he wrote nearly 1,200 poems throughout his life, including several published hymns.
Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

Just think, with each new day, God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.  And throughout history, He’s never once been proven wrong, for His mercies are new every morning, no matter what.

Thomas Chisolm died in 1960 at age 94. During his lifetime, he wrote more than 1,200 poems and hymns including O To Be Like Thee and Living for Jesus
Couple of notes from the lyrics:

“Morning by morning new mercies I see” – Not just one single morning, but morning after morning. Mornings in succession – When I wake up it is new mercies of the Lord that I see has given every day (another day of life, another day of provision for food and shelter, another day to spend with your love ones)? Is that your perspective or is it that each morning brings its own set of new problems? I like that the author here states that he sees these new mercies because that tells me he is looking for them. They are not going to necessarily hit you right between the eyes every morning. We have to be looking for the many ways that God shows us His mercy to be reminded of them. That simple change in perspective should open our eyes to all the daily blessings that we are given. God gives us each day for a purpose. Another opportunity to experience His mercies.

“All I have needed Thy hand hath provided” – This phrase is just packed with truth. Notice that the writer says ALL I HAVE NEEDED. NOT ALL THAT I HAVE WANTED. How many times have we wanted an improved version of this or that and we have cried to God with no possitive answer as it were? Lord I have just seen a new BMW and I want it in Jesus’name and the Lord who knows our hearts better than we do sees that if He gives that to us, our brethern are in trouble with our boasts and the sin that will come out of our hearts and lips. So intern he gives us a simple Toyota Vitz or NZE that runs pretty well and meets our needs. Moving from point A to be without the hastle of the matatu drivers. He has provided our need of transport not our want of pomp and circumstance.

“All I have needed not some of what I have needed Thy hand hath provided” contrasts with the Scripture that states “My God shall supply all of your needs according to His reaches in Christ Jesus.”

“All I have wanted, Thy hand hath not provided” – God has done as pleases with our wants. The Webster dictionary defines “need” as “a lack of something deemed necessary” or “destitution or extreme poverty”. It defines “want” as “something desired or demanded” or “a sense of lack or need of something.” With globalisation and wealth increased in the world today, I believe we have a real problem distinguishing our needs and wants. Does my IPAD hold 1million songs or 10 million songs? Is my phone a Sumsaung or just the ordinary Nokia? The last definition of want was a “sense” of lack or need. If we “want” something bad enough, we tend to elevate it to “need” status and then wonder why our needs aren’t met, and get mad at God. Isn’t that some crazy logic?

“All I have needed, My hand hath provided?” – Not exactly! Do you provide for your family? Or does the Lord give you a job and the strength and the ability to provide for your family? If our perspective is that we are “self-made,” we are sadly mistaken. The Lord is our Provider in every way. The song writer says THY HAND hath provided. Al that I have needed it has been packaged and sealed then delivered by the actual HAND of God Himself. That includes my job, my success and the rest.
“All I have needed, Thy hand hath held back” – God looks to bless us, not hold back from us. I love the passage in Matthew 7:11 which reads “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

“Strength for today” – Notice that the author doesn’t say, “Strength for today, tomorrow, next week, and next month.” Jesus spoke about worrying in Matthew 6:34 when He said “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Today has enough troubles of its own, but the Lord will give us the strength today for the problems of today. He has not promised to eliminate all of our problems or provide strength for problems we have yet to encounter, but He will provide strength for this day and its problems. One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That all I am asking of you.

Thou Changest not, thy compassion thy fail not. Yes it is true for God. He changes not. His mercies know no failures. He is the same yesterday today and forevermore. The Bible says in Malachi 3:6 “For I am Lord, I change not.” The writer of Hebrews 13:8 says that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” From our point of view, however, there may be times in our lives when our perspective of God changes. Maybe we see Him shining bright at High noon. Or maybe we can’t see Him at all in the “midnight” times in our lives. Maybe we experience seasons of life where we are closer to Him (summertime) and then there are times where He appears to be far off (wintertime). The reality, however, is that our perspective is what has changed. God has not moved. I also am reminded that day and night, spring, summer, winter, and fall are all natural, necessary parts of life so these changes and seasons are not necessarily bad things. But throughout those changes, the sun (and the Son) remains consistent.

Malachi 1:1 reads “My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.” Take time to be thankful for God’s faithfulness. Be grateful that He “changeth not,” and pray that we can trust His consistency no matter how our perspective might be changing. And be reminded by the daily rising and setting of the sun that, as Scripture tells us, God’s faithfulness and His name are great.



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