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I Know Who Holds Tomorrow — Part 2

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow – Part 2

Hello, everyone.

Yesterday (3/9/13) I posted a diary to my blog with the above title, in which I discussed knowing that God has our back, both as individuals and as a nation, in our times of trouble and uncertainty. This morning (3/10), the Mormon Tabernacle Choir program, “Music and the Spoken Word” continued this theme. I had not checked the printed program which is posted on the Choir’s website, so I was totally surprised at how the program meshed with my diary of yesterday.

There are many gospel songs written with the idea of God watching over us and being at our side as we face the uncertainties of life. Such knowledge is a source of great comfort to us. It is human nature to have qualms about facing the unknown, but knowing that we have others at our side gives us comfort as we wonder about tomorrow. It is significant, I believe, that in the past presidential campaign, the Democrats chose the theme “We are all in this thing together,” because many in this country are facing uncertainties, and they need to know that there are those in this country who know and understand their straits. Not just those people, but we all need to know that.

In each “Music and the Spoken Word” program, the choir sings 4 or 5 numbers, an organist plays a selection on the Tabernacle organ, and Lloyd Newell gives a meditation. Here is his meditation for today’s broadcast.

Giving Comfort ”

 given by Lloyd D. Newell

 March 10, 2013

 The classic western film Shane depicts a tragic conflict between ranchers and farmers. In one scene, the distressed wife of a farmer, feeling a need for comfort in the troubled situation, runs to her husband’s arms and says, “Hold me. Don’t say anything. Just hold me—tight.” She didn’t need advice or even kind words, just the comfort and reassurance of her husband’s embrace.

 Have you ever wanted to comfort a loved one, but you didn’t know how? Maybe you were afraid of overstepping your bounds or saying the wrong thing. Sometimes we don’t need to say anything at all. We simply need to be available. One person who recently lost her father observed, “My friends were there for me. It was great, because they just acted normal. I wasn’t ready to talk about my dad’s death, but I knew when I was ready they would be there to listen.”

Often the best way to give comfort is by offering a listening ear. More than anything, our friends who are suffering simply need to know that someone cares to listen—without judging or advising unless we’re asked to. They need a chance to sort out and make sense of their feelings by expressing them to a sympathetic listener.

 Then, when we see that something we can do would be comforting, it’s often best just to do it. Many people who need help hesitate to ask for it. Knowing a young mother was ill, a neighbor brought over a casserole for the family’s dinner—without waiting to be asked. One good man shoveled snow from his neighbor’s driveway, knowing the older man would have difficulty doing it himself. Great comfort comes in knowing that someone is aware of us, loves us, and is willing to lend a hand.

 We may think we don’t know how to appropriately comfort others in times of need. But we do know how to love and care. It requires no eloquence, no special skills or training to show love. When our friends in need sense our love, then they will say with the Psalmist, “This is my comfort in my affliction [Psalm 119:50].”

 The final number, sung after Newell’s meditation, was the hymn “How Firm a Foundation.” The author of the text is not known; it has been attributed variously to John Keene, Kirkham, and John Keith. The text can be sung to a number of hymn tunes. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings it to a tune titled “My Jesus, I Love Thee” attributed to J. Ellis (not the song you may be thinking of, but a different one). The text has seven stanzas, but only five are generally used in hymnals. Here are all seven verses.

1. How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who to His bosom for refuge have fled?

2. In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

3. Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,

For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

4. When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

5. When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,

My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

6. Even down to old age all My people shall prove

My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

7. The soul that in My grace has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Talk about knowing who holds tomorrow!

In my first “Tomorrow” diary, I mentioned how I had seen the hand of God at work in the history of this country and in my own life. I have felt His presence in the lives of my two late wives, the finest women that any man could be privileged to know. I have also seen it in the lives of TRUE friends who have been there to laugh with me and also share my tears. I have seen it in this country when men of decency rose up to end nefarious practices and to lead this country through its times of difficulty and peril. All of these people knew in their hearts who truly holds tomorrow, and therefore were able to provide leadership and comfort when needed.

I have made two alterations to the text of the hymn. In stanzas 1 and 7, there are references to “Jesus.” I have chosen to remove those. In stanza 1 I refer to the bosom of God, and in stanza 7 I refer to God’s grace. I made those changes deliberately because I have never known the “Jesus” that the Evangelical community claims that exists. I have called out to “Jesus” at a variety of times in my life, but in return I never received any indication that he ever heard me, let alone existed. I therefore decided that the One Who HAS been there for me during my uncertainties, my griefs, and my joys – the Supreme God – merited mention in those stanzas.

The year 1968 was a tumultuous year in our history. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated. The chaotic Democratic Convention took place in Chicago. (Remember “The whole world is watching” during the police riot?) Richard Nixon eked out a presidential victory by a margin thinner than a human hair. The Vietnam War raged on and on. On the end-of-year news roundup program on CBS, Walter Cronkite said something along these lines: “And that’s the way it was, here during this year of 1968. And somehow, someway, we managed to survive it.”

Yes, we did survive it. We survived it to land men on the moon and bring them back alive the following July. We survived it to see President Gerald Ford heal the country after the tragedy of Watergate and a presidency gone wrong. We survived it to see President Bill Clinton restore hope to a country that had almost given up. We survived it to see President Barak Obama lead this country after the Great Recession, much like his predecessor Franklin Delano Roosevelt led this country out of the Great Depression and through World War II. And we survived it to witness Hillary Rodham Clinton labor to bring some measure of peace and stability to the world. And we will survive to see more such leaders, hopefully, in the crises to come.

When she was alive, Ethel Waters used to sing about God’s eye being on the sparrow and his watching over her. Ira Stamphill wrote about knowing who knows tomorrow. And that is really what religious faith is. It isn’t believing a lot of stuff about some possibly made-up “Jesus;” it is simply believing, knowing, and trusting in the knowledge that “God’s in his heaven; all’s well with the world.” As I approach age 71, I can echo the words written by Fanny J. Crosby over a hundred years ago:

All the way my Father leads me;

What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
My God doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
My God doeth all things well.

 I apologize for being preachy in these two diaries, but I have indeed learned that Someone DOES hold tomorrow, and that even in the darkest times, there IS light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is NOT the headlight of a train.

 May each of you have a good day today, tomorrow, and always.

 Bill

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March 10, 2013 - Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion

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