Friday, January 27, 2012

Give to the Winds your Fears

    This morning as I flipped through my hymnal to find something to sight-read I came across this hymn by Paul Gerhardt (translated by Charles Wesley):

Give to the Winds your Fears

Give to the winds your fears,
in hope be undismayed;
God hears your sighs and counts your tears,
God shall lift up your head;
through waves and clouds and storms
he gently clears the way;
wait for his time, so shall the night
soon end in joyous day.

 Far, far above your thought
his counsel shall appear,
when fully he the work has wrought
that caused your needless fear.
Leave to God's sovereign will
to choose and to command;
with wonder filled you then shall own
how wise, how strong his hand. 

    After playing through it and reading the words carefully, I found my teacher’s collection of books containing stories behind many cherished hymns. I learned that the writer, Paul Gerhardt, experienced many painful things in his life (the death of four children while they were still in infancy, and the death of his wife after only thirteen years of marriage). When he wrote of storms, tears, and night in this hymn he had very real, very painful experiences to draw from.

    Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of giving my fears to the wind, realizing that fear is unnecessary is somewhat difficult for me to grasp. But Scripture confirms that this indeed is what our attitude should be: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).

    It’s interesting to me that God doesn’t use any qualifiers in this command. He doesn’t say, “Fear not unless things get really hard and scary” or “Fear not when you feel assured of my nearness.” He tells us not to be afraid simply because He is with us and He is God. The fact that God is with us is enough to make all fear absolutely unnecessary. Our fear is needless, as Gerhardt says.

    That doesn’t mean this is an easy concept to grasp or that we’ll always want to believe in God’s sovereign plan and purpose. But even when we don’t understand we are free to trust him, to give our fears to the wind and cling to the unchanging promise of our Almighty and Faithful God:

I am with you.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:1-2, 10

[Soli deo gloria]

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