WHAT GOD ORDAINS IS ALWAYS GOOD
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In the Name of the Father, and (+) of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
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 the Hymn What God Ordains Is Always Good
1 What God ordains is always good:
His will is just and holy.
As He directs my life for me,
I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed
In ev'ry need
Knows well how He will shield me;
To Him, then, I will yield me.
2 What God ordains is always good:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me in His righteous way,
And never will He leave me.
I take content
What He has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness
Will turn my tears to gladness.
3 What God ordains is always good:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my physician sends me.
My God is true;
Each morning new
I trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.
4 What God ordains is always good:
He is my friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm
Though many storms may gather.
Now I may know
Both joy and woe;
Some day I shall see clearly
That He has loved me dearly.
5 What God ordains is always good:
Though I the cup am drinking
Which savors now of bitterness,
I take it without shrinking.
For after grief
God gives relief,
My heart with comfort filling
And all my sorrow stilling.
6 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.
Our devotion commentary for today comes from Pastor Sean Daenzer as found in the Lutheran Service Book Companion to the Hymns Volume 1.
Rodigast begins each stanza with the confession that "what God ordains is always good." The final thought of the first and last stanzas is the same: "so to my God I yield me." This simple confession and response is expounded upon throughout the hymn. The confession of God's work as "good" and His corresponding will for humanity as "just and holy" comes not by observation, but by His Word. The world observes the works of the "hidden God" and passes judgment on Him - God is thought unfair, cruel, or perhaps not really in control. The Christian, however, lives by faith and not by sight, trusting the Word of God; namely, that God works all things together for the good of the Christian (Romans 8:28) and that God is a just and righteous God of truth with no iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4).
These promises and truths are made evident in the crucifixion of Christ. His death is an offense to the world, but it is salvation to those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). Faith contents itself with the promises of God. Even in the face of sufferings and crosses that might suggest God's abandonment or punishment, the Christian holds fast to what He sends as a good gift and sign of His favor. Rodigast's hymn confesses this worldly foolishness, this theology of the cross; for this reason, it continues to be included in what was formerly titled the "Cross and Comfort" section.
Luther paraphrases Isaiah 5:20 in insisting that the theologian of the cross "calls the thing what it is." Likewise, this hymn does not deny suffering, sorrow, need, and death, nor pretend that they are not so bad; rather, it admits the reality of suffering and confesses that it comes precisely from God. The strength of Lutheran comfort is its honesty about sin, death, and suffering, while trusting wholly and only in the promises of the Word. Stanza 3 is especially potent: that Christ is our physician, who may prescribe bitter medicine for our health and well-being. The reference to Lamentations 3:22-23 ("His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning") shows this hymn to be true Christian lament; not merely venting about troubles and sorrows, it holds God to His promises to deliver and preserve.
Stanza 5 is also especially comforting. In it, Rodigast connects the suffering of the singer to the Passion of Christ, who prayed in the garden, "Remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Whether God will remove the cup from the Christian this side of eternity is unknown. Rather, the promise of His truth and faithfulness enables one to face and endure suffering as long as God sends it, for this Savior remains with the Christian now and in eternity, when all sorrows will be stilled forever.
Some may wonder if this hymn's doctrine comes close to a Calvinist understanding of God's sovereignty - that because God rules and ordains everything, Christians should be content with whatever happens. What is different about this hymn, though, is that it places contentedness not merely in a god who is powerful and in control, but in God's promises that He works, rules, and controls in mercy for the good of the Christian. The hymn does not profess its commitment to a god who is in charge whether he elects some to damnation or to salvation, but to the God who pours out His wrath upon HIs Son that the world might be saved. Only a God of promise and mercy is a God to be feared, just as the table prayer says, "The LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love." (Psalm 136:1, 25; 147:9-11)
Heavenly Father, what You ordain is always good. Help us to see this - especially when things look the very opposite of what we would call good. Fix our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ and help us to trust that You work, rule, and control all things in mercy for our good and salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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