A Hymn From the Past
Far From the World, O Lord, I Flee – by William Cowper
Today’s hymn is another of William Cowper’s, again focusing on the way a Christian should handle crisis. It’s easy to say “be anxious for nothing” but far more difficult to do it, or to explain how one goes about doing it. Anxiety, fear, faithlessness, can overwhelm even the most seasoned believer. How many messages did I hear about being anxious for nothing in the WoF movement? Too many to count. Unfortunately, I can count all the ways we were taught not to be anxious on one hand. It was simple, you rebuke the fear and the cause of the fear, then ignore it. Cancer? Job loss? Pandemic? Oh no, don’t pay that any attention, proceed as if all is well and surely don’t confide in another church goer, or heaven forbid, a pastor or elder. That would be speaking negative confessions. The answer was actually not an answer, the anxiety wasn’t gone, we just had to keep our problems to ourselves.
What is the actual answer? God has given us means of handling anxiety and fear, rather than expecting us to ignore them or pretend our words have magical powers. I can name four different avenues for renewing our minds when fear threatens to overwhelm us, if you can think of more from Scripture please add them in the comments below. 1. Prayer – what does it really mean to be praying ceaselessly? It doesn’t mean becoming a monk, refusing to eat, sleep, or talk. But to be bringing our thoughts, concerns, praises, thanksgivings to the throne of God throughout the day. In this way, when anxiety or fear begins to bubble up in our minds we have a place of authority to take them. We can rest at the foot of the throne, pouring out our troubles before the God of the universe. One other point about prayer is that we can pray for one another, we don’t have to be alone in this. Asking believers for prayer, and praying for brothers and sisters-in-Christ is such a joy to me, as I often remember what it was like to keep it all inside.
2. Study – When we go to Scripture for devotions and study we learn about God, about His character, about the bigger picture that we tend to miss during our anxious days. We’re grounded again on the truth of God’s sovereignty, reminded of eternity, reminded of His call to share the Gospel, and reminded of mercy when we stumble into fearful anxiety. This is another thing we don’t have to do alone, we can have Bible studies together! 3. Worship – This is the actual point of this post, below is another beautiful hymn that reminds us of our true home. Job asked His wife about this, when she recommended that he just curse God and die. How could he do that? How could he praise God when everything was good, and then turn his back on God when things were, well, awful? When we give God the glory that He so truly is owed, even when we are hurting, we are reminded of the God we serve. Through the words of a Psalm or a hymn we can sing of His love, His mercy, His salvation, of all that He has already done. This takes our mind off of the momentary affliction and puts it where it out to be, reorienting our perspective back on what we have already been given! 4. Fellowship – final thought on this is how we can fellowship. True that right now we’re unable to meet in large numbers, but when we talk with one another about God, about our trials and His provisions, we are baring one another burdens. We’re not alone, we have a family, a body of believers, each with their own battles against the flesh. Alone we might feel like we’re the single most wretched sinner to ever be forgiven, but when we are brought together and enjoy a time of fellowship we see that God is sanctifying all of us. What a kindness God has given to His children!
Can you think of any other paths that Scripture lays out for us to battle the sin of faithlessness? What is your favorite hymn when dealing with trials, or sorrow? Mine is Pass Me Not by Fanny Crosby, but these lyrics below are also edifying and beautiful. I hope you are blessed by this hymn, and please let me know if there is anyway I could be praying for you. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.
Far from the world, O Lord, I flee,
From strife and tumult far;
From scenes where Satan wages still
His most successful war.
The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree;
And seem by Thy sweet bounty made
For those who follow Thee.
There, if Thy Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
O with what peace, and joy, and love,
She communes with her God!
There, like the nightingale, she pours
Her solitary lays;
Nor asks a witness of her song,
Nor thirsts for human praise.
Author and Guardian of my life,
Sweet Source of light divine,
And, all harmonious names in one,
My Saviour,–Thou art mine!
What thanks I owe Thee, and what love,
A boundless, endless store,
Shall echo through the realms above
When time shall be no more!