REJOICING IN GRIEF AND SORROW
You can listen to the devotion here.
I picked this text and hymn for our devotion for today because this will be the hymn we sing this Sunday and I will be preaching on Lamentations 3 as well.
In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Devotion based on Rejoice, My Heart, Be Glad and Sing 737
1 Rejoice, my heart, be glad and sing,
A cheerful trust maintain;
For God, the source of ev'rything,
Your portion shall remain.
2 He is your treasure, He your joy,
Your life and light and Lord,
Your Counselor when doubts annoy,
Your shield and great reward.
3 Why spend the day in blank despair,
In restless thought the night?
On your Creator cast your care;
He makes your burdens light.
4 Did not His love and truth and pow'r
Guard ev'ry childhood day?
And did He not in threat'ning hour
Turn dreaded ills away?
5 He only will with patience chide,
His rod falls gently down;
And all your sins He casts aside
In ocean depths to drown.
6 His wisdom never plans in vain
Nor falters nor mistakes.
All that His counsels may ordain
A blessed ending makes.
7 Upon your lips, then, lay your hand,
And trust His guiding love;
Then like a rock thy peace shall stand
Here and in heav'n above.
You can listen to the hymn here.
Today’s commentary on the hymn comes from Pastor Richard Resch as found in the Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns Volume 1.
There are those who cannot believe that a pastor would write a hymn asking them to rejoice during trials and testing. These saints will have a difficult time with the seven stanzas of this hymn by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676).
It is one thing for the faithful to understand and trust that God, in His infinite wisdom, needs to chasten them from time to time. But it is quite another thing for them to rejoice, be glad, and sing about it while enduring the chastening. Without help, very few rejoice and sing in such times. Yet hymns give Christians a voice and provide the words that lead them to do just that. There may be tears, but the muffled singing still confesses a confident hope and trust in the One who sent a form of testing – for their good.
This is how Paul Gerhardt becomes the master teacher of the theology of the cross, for he teaches the unthinkable. He teaches joy through tears, a heart to be glad when it is breaking, a cheerful trust when it appears that one is forsaken and alone. Gerhardt frequently experienced such trials and knew what he was talking about. Yet he saw a blessed road, one that also gives us rejoicing and gladness. His pastoral advice is for us to sing that Jesus Christ is a treasure, a shield, a reward, a counselor, a light, and the Lord in contexts that extraordinary and filled with despair, extreme suffering, and severe crosses. Gerhardt nevertheless has us sing that Christ is our song. Only in Him could rejoicing be on our lips in such times (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Such unique singing baffles the world and sends Satan running.
Lord God, heavenly Father, who in Your divine wisdom and fatherly goodness makes Your children to bear the cross, and sends diverse afflictions upon us to subdue the flesh, and quicken our hearts unto faith, hope and unceasing prayer: We beseech You to have mercy upon us, and graciously deliver us out of our trials and afflictions, so that we may perceive Your grace and fatherly help, and with all saints forever praise and worship You; through Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, world without end. Amen.
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