Dr. B. Howard (Howie) Stevenson was the much-loved Pastor of Worship and Arts at the Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton in Southern California for decades. Every Sunday, Howie led the choir, orchestra, and congregation into beautiful moments of deep and thoughtful worship. He created wide-open spaces for intimate connection with God through music, prayer, drama, and dance. And curated worship moments that provided us the freedom to experience God in mystery and wonder.
I was privileged to work as Howie’s Music and Admin Assistant for several years in the early 80s. Nearly every day, Howie would energetically stride through the door into our shared office space and call out, “Karen! Strength for today …” and I would holler back, “and bright hope for tomorrow.” We started our day with the reminder that God’s faithful presence provided us with the strength we needed for the day and helped us keep our eyes fixed on the hope of eternity to come.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be
Pardon for sin & a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer & to guide;
Strength for today & bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand besides
Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand has provided;
Great is They faithfulness, LORD unto me!*
In Psalm 31, David pens his own lyrics of the magnificence of God: the LORD is our refuge and deliverer, our rescuer, our fortress. He listens, leads, and guides. (Can you hear the music of David’s hymn crescendoing here?) He is trustworthy, faithful, and saves me with His hesed (steadfast) love. Finally, the hymn ends with a final chord, resonant with strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow: “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD” (31:24 ESV)!
Strength, hope, blessings. Great is thy faithfulness, LORD, unto me!
ACTION: Listen to the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (there are many arrangements of this hymn to be found on YouTube—something to fit every musical preference). Which phrase most resonates with you as you listen? Strength for today? Bright hope for tomorrow? Perhaps, no shadow of turning with Thee. How might you pray that back to the LORD in the form of gratitude?
*Great Is Thy Faithfulness, William Runyan, 1923, Public Domain