Words: Thomas Mosie Lister (b. Sept. 8, 1921)
Music: Thomas Mosie Lister
Note: The Wordwise Hymns will give you a bit of background on this highly respected gospel song writer.
As I write this blog, New York City and the surrounding area is still digging out in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. The destruction is jaw-dropping, and the multiple human tragedies–death, injury, homes destroyed, businesses damaged or lost–heart-breaking.
Stormy weather. We all go through it. Some storms are mild, and their effects minimal. Others are life-changing, not only for individuals and their families, but for whole communities. Katrina provides another example of this. The cost, even in financial terms is staggering.
But there are storms in life of other kinds. Spiritual and emotional storms that may bring hurt and harm at a personal level that is not experienced by other around. Illness (sometimes hidden), financial loss, family break-up, and more. Those around may have hardly an inkling of the pain and distress the individual is enduring. That is the focus of Mr. Lister’s song.
1) In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls about me, and there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe till the storm passes by.
In the Bible, actual storms are described, such as the one in which Jonah found himself (Jon. 1:1-4), and one later experienced by Paul (Acts 27:14-44). But storms are also used to picture other things, such as the attack of an enemy (e.g. Ps. 55:1-8; 83:1-2, 13-16), or God’s judgment (e.g. Prov. 1:25-27; Isa. 28:2; 29:6), or human suffering (e.g. Isa. 32:2; 54:11).
Job certainly knew about life’s storms. Not aware of the cruel schemes of the devil, he could only think his distress was coming from the Lord–attacks for which he could discern no reason. “He crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds without cause” (Job. 9:17).
Job suffered the death of family members, the loss of wealth and property, physical illness of a most painful kind, the criticism of family and friends, a loss of social standing and, above all, a seeming loss of God’s blessing and fellowship. Those with a simplistic theology were convinced God must be punishing him for some great wickedness. But Job knew this was not true–and the Lord agreed with him about that (Job 2:3).
This great suffering saint had the insight to realize that even if justice, and the answers to his questions didn’t come in this life, he would one day stand before the Lord and things would be made right (Job 19:25-26). Meanwhile, he determined to stay true to the Lord (Job 13:15).
Job did experience a wonderful restoration on this side of the grave (Job 42:12-13). But that is not the case for everyone. Some die in their distress. But if they are believers they have the promise of God that all sorrow and suffering will one day come to an end (Rev. 21:4).
2) Many times Satan whispered, “There is no need to try,
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by;”
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 4:16–5:1).
1) How could you bring comfort and encouragement to a sufferer, while avoiding simplistic explanations, false hope, and empty platitudes?
2) What are some of the great hymns of comfort that have been meaningful to you?