A HYMN OF GLORY LET US SING (THIRTY-FOURTH IN A SERIES)
“What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.” (Hymn 529 refrain)
One of the Christian’s most important attitudes—and also one of the most difficult to achieve and maintain—is conformity of our will to God’s will. This is not simply a matter of submitting our will to God’s will, like a child obeying his parents and taking a bath when he’d really rather continue playing with his toy trucks in the dirt. Conformity of our will to God’s will is instead a matter of desiring the same thing that God desires.
Sometimes that’s hard. What if God’s will is not what we would choose for ourselves? We want what we want, and we want God to desire and provide those things for us: good health, faithful spouse and friends, satisfying career with financial stability, good government—it’s a long list. We tend to want His will to conform to ours, rather than the other way around. Then we must remember, “The will of God shall be my pleasure/ While here on earth is mine abode;/ My will is wrong beyond all measure,/ It doth not will what pleaseth God.” (Verse 3)
We are not wiser than God. We often do not know our own good, and we most certainly do not always know the Lord’s purposes in allowing many of the unpleasant circumstances of our lives. What we do know is that whatever our circumstances may be, God’s love for us remains steadfast; it is operative even in the hardest of times. So this hymn proclaims, “I leave all things to God’s direction,/ He loveth me in weal1 and woe;/ His will is good, true His affection,/ With tender love His heart doth glow.” (Verse 1) We may not understand God’s purpose, but we embrace the promise of the text upon which this hymn is based: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Ultimately, it’s a matter of faith, isn’t it? We often don’t understand why we suffer things such as ill health, financial problems, the death of a loved one, relationship difficulties, or other such trying circumstances. In fact, we may never, in this life, know the purpose. What we do know, however, is that the One Who allows these things in our lives does so for good, out of a very personal love for us. “God knows what must be done to save me,/ His love for me will never cease;/ Upon His hands He did engrave me2/ With purest gold of loving grace.” (Verse 4)
There is another important thing we do know. We know that any present hardships we may experience will ultimately issue forth—whether in this life or not until the real and permanent one to come—in joy and gladness. “My God hath all things in His keeping,/ He is the ever faithful Friend;/ He grants me laughter after weeping,/ And all His ways in blessings end./ His love endures eternally:/ What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.” (Verse 2)
It is as my friend Don Bishop wrote at the back of his Bible, summing it all up: “We win.”
Craig Owings is a retired teacher and serves as assistant editor of the Lutheran Spokesman. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.