Stanza 4: Be still soul, this is not the end!
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Lately, my wife and I have been watching one of those shows that transports you back and forth through the lives of the characters, landing in scenes that grow in significance as the story unfolds. I enjoy a good story that draws you in, piques your interest, and then turns you back to your own story.
These past four weeks have felt like that for me as we’ve reflected on this hymn, “Be Still My Soul”: Be still, soul, the Lord is on your side, He will guide you, He is enough for you! But wait, there’s more – this life is not all there is: this is not the end! He is faithful, He is in control, He soothes our fears, and one day, we shall be with Him in person.
I’ve found myself reflecting on various scenes through my life as the Lord has guided and provided and comforted and reminded me that while He is here with me now, there is something better coming. Like the moment when I (randomly I thought) picked the college dorm floor where I met a bunch of other students involved in a Christian organization – and through them met Jesus; or the moment when I said to my boss, “Yes, I’ll fill that need in Germany,” and the first week I was there I met my wife; and the rain that fell the morning of May 3rd, 1995, which kept me from heading out early to renew our Croatian visas at the Police Station down the street, where 3 people died as missiles hit the building that morning; or sitting in our van across the street from our home, as we watched fire spew from our top floor windows while we waited 45 minutes for the fire trucks to respond to our calls for help late one night in 1999.
Disappointment, grief and fear gone? Not now, but one day . . . .
Sorrow forgot? Not now, but one day . . . .
Tears past? Not now, but one day . . . .
Last week the Christian world mourned the passing of Tim Keller. Keller had an incredible impact upon the world as a pastor, theologian, and literary friend. I liked to think of him as my literary friend because I learned so much about walking with Jesus from his books. One in particular, The Prodigal God, had a profound impact upon how I understood my own relationship with the Father . . . and helped me to understand the disappointment and grief that I’d been carrying around, unable to take it to the Father, wallowing in it instead.
Disappointment, grief, fear, sorrow, and tears can either serve to convince our hearts that it’s all too much, or they can serve to clarify to our hearts that even when it’s a lot, God is with us, for us, and in us, and one day loves purest joys will be restored.
Paul, a man not unacquainted with grief or loss, summed up our suffering in this way, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NASB95). I think that’s why I love Keller’s words about passing from this world to the next: “All death can do now, Christian, is make life infinitely better.”
Where do today’s disappointments, sorrows and fears send you? Do you find yourself being overwhelmed by them? In times like that, how do you engage with the Lord in honesty and truth? And, when disappointments, sorrows and fears serve to clarify what’s going on in your heart, how do you engage with the Lord about your ultimate future? How are you holding the tension of “the now and the not yet?”
Here’s one more version of “Be Still My Soul.” As you listen, reflect upon what awaits you one day when you leave this world. How can that help inform how you walk with Jesus today?