Two theological truths stand out in the first line of this song – (1) God ordains, (2) What he ordains is right. We need hymns of this sort to remind us of the beautiful truths Scripture lays out for us in passages such as such Deuteronomy 32:4, Romans 8:38-39, Hebrew 13:5, Ephesians 2:20, Luke 1:79, the passages this song is said to be based upon.
“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV)
GOD ORDAINS OUR SALVATION
I first heard this song around the spring of 2005, when I first learned of Indelible Grace and the RUF ministry. I fell in love with their revivals of old hymns put to new music. This one was especially helpful to me at the time. I was growing steadily in my faith, but I distinctly remember wrestling with some of the doctrines of the sovereignty of God, trying to pin down exactly why was it the case that God would create a person whom he knew in advance would not be saved.
For many years, I failed to see the connection between God’s foreknowledge and his ordination of the affairs of his creation. Namely, it wasn’t just that he knew some would not be with him forever, but that he ordained this to be the case. Only Romans 9 helped create clarity as to the truthfulness of this situation.
GOD ORDAINS OUR SUFFERING
Years later, as more life experiences accrued and more opportunities for suffering became available, my wife and I endured a long season of great difficulty, trial and hardship. Just 30 days after we married my wife was hospitalized for 188 days. She would eventually receive heart transplant but not without several other life saving interventions in between. About 18 months later, she would be diagnosed with ESRD and required a kidney transplant or live on dialysis for the rest of her life. This is just a glimpse of the story line but a certain truth I kept returning to during these difficulties was the refrain – whatev’re my God ordains is right.
What is most stunning is not that God would ordain these events, but he ordained the worst event of human suffering ever recorded in the history of the universe – the crushing of His son, Jesus on our behalf.
GOD ORDAINS THE DEATH OF JESUS
Unless we understand this truth about the ordaining work of God in the life of his own son, we will find ourselves persistently frustrated in the face of difficulty. We will be constantly on the edge of hopelessness and despair if it were not for the reminder that our Savior died on our behalf. His death was to rectify our greatest need and our greatest problem. Sometimes we view our difficulties, and stories of pain and suffering as our greatest problem but Christ’s death proves otherwise.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 10 Yet, it was the the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his should makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”Isaiah 53:5 & 10
WHATE’RE MY GOD ORDAINS IS RIGHT
“God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass:” Chapter Three of the Westminster Confession of Faith. (Ref. Eph 1:11, Rom 11:33, Heb 6:17, Rom 9:15, 18).
This song and the truths this song provides testimony to serve as anchors for us as we wrestle with deep issues that might lead us into the counseling office. There are issues of suffering and salvation which are regularly analysed and sought to be understood in this larger framework and context of God’s ordination. Everyone who steps into the counseling office has a problem in living. Aware of it or not, God ordained their problems; God ordained the death of his own Son; God even ordained the meeting of counseling session. As we see this more and more clearly, there is a new passage way in our coming to grips with accepting the fact that we control virtually nothing in our lives. We do not control the day of our birth or death, we do not control whether we get cancer or need a heart transplant; we don’t even control whether we are saved from eternal judgement.
I pray that this song serves you whereby as these beautiful truths move deeper inside your heart, you actually experience a great comfort of God. I dare not consider the alternative, knowing my own weakness and pride, any momentary consideration otherwise would leave me without hope. So listen in, consider the suffering of your heart, consider the suffering of Christ and in faith believe that it was God’s will, and whatever he wills is right.
- What life situation do you most wish were different and how does that desire change in light of the fact that God ordained the circumstances that led to that life situation?
- Do you feel any comfort in knowing God ordained your salvation and/or suffering (or difficulty, struggle, trial)?
- If God didn’t ordain these things, then what is the alternative? Describe what hope looks like in that context.