My mind keeps going back to a beautiful old hymn this week. The music keeps running through my head and I find comfort in the lyrics of this marvelous song.
"Day by day, and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear. He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure, Gives unto each day what He deems best, Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, Mingling toil with peace and rest."
As a pastor, I find myself comforting family members who are facing so many hard times in life: a dire diagnosis of a dreaded disease; making those hard decisions for aging or ailing loved ones; the loss of a job or inability to pay the bills; a marriage in trouble; children out of control; a sudden death; and the list goes on.
Sometimes words are not enough to bring comfort. Sometimes words are just that: words. And many times they seem empty and meaningless. Sometimes when the pain we are feeling is so deep, only God can ease the hurt and anguish.
A pastor without the guidance of the Holy Spirit is probably just as empty and meaningless as those mere words.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit "the Comforter" in John's gospel, and when we go through the hard times in life we need God's comfort.
Isaiah said that Jesus was to be called "the Prince of Peace," and when we are enduring the storms of life we need that Prince to calm our fears.
I know I need divine help if I am going to help others, and I know I need divine assistance to conquer my own fears and doubts.
The hymn, "Day By Day and With Each Passing Moment," was penned by the Swedish hymn writer, Carolina Sandell-Berg. She was raised by her Lutheran pastor father whom she cherished.
Her life was not an easy one, and she suffered many physical problems throughout her life. One tragedy in particular impacted her profoundly.
She was sailing across a lake in Sweden with her father when he was accidently thrown from the boat and drowned before her eyes. Not long after that incident she wrote the words to this beautiful hymn
The lyrics go on to say: "Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour; All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me, He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r. The protection of His child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid; 'As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,' This the pledge to me He made."
As a pastor, a husband, a father, and a friend, I find multiple opportunities to be God's vessel. All of us are presented with these same types of occasions to bring comfort and peace to others.
We may not know what to say in some situations. Sometimes not saying anything is just fine. Simply being there in silence might be the best comfort for the moment. There is that old saying, "silence is golden," and our silence accompanied by our comforting presence might be just what is needed.
Life is filled with difficulties, troubles and pain. That is part and parcel of being human. But, I believe that God can see us through all of those hard times if we will let Him.
Sandell-Berg's song concludes with these words: "Help me then, in every tribulation, So to trust Thy promises, O Lord, That I lose not faith's sweet consolation, Offered me within Thy holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E'er to take, as from a father's hand, One by one, the days, the moments fleeting, Till with Christ the Lord I stand."
I pray that you will find comfort in the words of this sweet hymn of faith, and I pray that you will put your trust in the Lord today.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org