My Life Has Changed, But God Has Not
It is often said that grief comes in waves. It’s true I suppose, but seldom are they the gentle waves that lap at our feet as we wiggle our toes in the sand on the beach and daydream of our fairytale yesterday. Although over time the waves may subside so that their force doesn’t knock us off our feet, early in our grief voyage many waves strike with a violent, hurricane strength that threatens the integrity of even the sturdiest vessels. These waves swell from deep within the sea of life and often arise without warning. They are towering walls of water that are unavoidable and can leave us feeling battered, broken and hopeless. But, we have a firm foundation who remains unchanged by the storms of life. As Edward Mote penned in the much loved hymn The Solid Rock, “In every high and stormy gale, my anchor hold within the veil. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” When these raging waters threaten to overtake your weary soul, drop your anchor into the sure Foundation that lies in the river of grace. Let your faith tether you to the hope found only in the Unchangeable God.
“We have this this hope as an anchor of the soul, firm and secure.”
Horatio Spafford was a wealthy Chicago lawyer. He was a devout Christian and faithful student of the Scriptures. He seemed to have everything good in life. He had a thriving legal practice, a beautiful home, and a loving family. At the height of his success, he and his wife, Anna, lost their young son. Shortly thereafter, on October 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed almost all of Spafford’s real estate investments. In an effort to rest and recover from all the tragedy, the Spaffords scheduled a vacation to Europe. Horatio sent his wife and four daughters ahead of him while he remained in Chicago to take care of some unexpected last minute business. Several days later he received notice that the ship carrying his family had collide with another vessel. Anna narrowly escaped, but all four of his daughters drowned.
With a heart that weighed heavy in his chest, he boarded a ship that would take him to be with Anna in England. I cannot imagine the magnitude of such loss, yet when his boat came to the spot where the collision had taken the lives of his daughters Spafford penned the words to the hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well (it is well),
With my soul (with my soul), It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou will whisper Thy peace to my soul.
And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so it is well with my soul.
Horatio Spafford trusted his Anchor. Though his sorrow like sea billow rolled, he let peace like a river attend his soul. He was able to pen these words because he knew that though the course of his life had been irrevocably altered, he could trust The Unchangeable God.
How can we have this same trust? Who is this Unchangeable God? In Genesis, He is the breath of life. In Exodus, He is “I AM”. In Ruth, He is the kinsmen-redeemer. In Psalms, He is the morning song. In Isaiah, He is the Prince of Peace. In Hosea, He is forever faithful. In the gospels, He is God, Man and Messiah. In Corinthians, He is the power of love. In Thessalonians, He is our coming King. In Revelations He is the Alpha and Omega, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
We live in temporal world that is in a constant state of flux. This can leave us confused, disappointed, and insecure. We don’t welcome most change and we certainly didn’t invite the change that occurred in our lives when our child died. It is a change beyond our reasoning, and it deeply affects every area of our being – psychologically, socially, spiritually, physically and mentally. Our emotions ride a roller coaster of helplessness, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, sadness, and even, sometimes, relief and happiness. We now find it hard to relate to others and feel lonely. We wonder how God could have let such a thing happen. We can’t sleep, have headaches, lose or gain weight. We can’t concentrate and have trouble remembering things. We feel as though we are precariously perched on the peak of an abyss and that the slightest misstep will send us plummeting into an inescapable void. Now, more than ever, you need to secure yourself to the Unchangeable God and listen for His whisper of hope. Your life will never be the same. Your story now includes an unforeseen and unwelcome plot twist, but God is still God and forever will be. He has not changed.
He is the same in His creative, redemptive and protective power. From before creation He was God. As a babe in the manger, He was God. When He hung on the cross, He was God. When He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven, He was God. He is the same God that holds the world in His hands and holds the keys to life and death. He is:
“the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17
“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” – Psalm 102:25-27
He is the same in His personality – His might, wisdom, justice, goodness and love. He is the same in His plans. He is the same in His promises to save, supply and sustain. And, He is the same in His perfection. There is no need for Perfection to change.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:28
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19
“Let us go forward, then, to the unchanging Saviour, through the changing things of time and sense; and we shall meet him soon in the glory, and he will be unchanged even there, as compassionate and loving to us when we shall get home to him, and see him in his splendor, as he was to his poor disciples when he himself had not where to lay his head and was a sufferer amongst them.” – Charles Spurgeon, “The Unchangeable Christ” sermon No. 2358 February 23, 1888
You have been shaken, but the Rock under you remains firm. Your heart hurts and your life will never be the same. But God…His heart has not and will not be altered. Lose yourself in the immensity of the Godhead. Nothing else has the power to comfort the soul and speak peace during grief.
The waves come, the storm rages, but we are not alone in this tempest. Our faith tethers us to an anchor of hope that is based on truth and the certainty of our salvation to steady our souls while we weather the present storms. Let your tears fall into the grace water that runs over our Anchor. Let these waters of peace be a sponge to your dry lips. Feel it trickle over you and then let it flow over you washing away the darkness. Let His waves of loves wash over you. His river of grace is more powerful than the tides of destruction that threaten.
Lam 3:22-24 “The steadfast love of the LORD never cease; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”