God’s Unchanging Hand
by Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:1-8).
Her father died in her infancy. When she was four years old, she was left paralyzed following a spinal infection that rendered her an invalid. She lived her life in a wheelchair. And suffered the uncertain ravages of the Civil War. But Jennie Bain Wilson lived a productive and joyful life as she grew up in rural Indiana.
In 1881, at age 25 she was carried into a creek in her wheelchair and baptized into Christ. She wrote, “It gave me much joy to thus confess my dear Savior.” Jennie’s life was then dedicated to her love of music and poetry. She penned over 2200 poems. One of her most famous poems set to music and found in many hymnals is “Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand.”
The first verse offers this insight and exhortation
Time is filled with swift transition,
Naught of earth unmoved can stand,
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand
In today’s text, Paul is essentially admonishing us in a similar vein. He speaks as one who has suffered hardship, endured trials, and experienced adversity, yet he provides a hopeful assurance of the Christian’s future.
Note these declarative affirmations.
There’s a lot we don’t know. But through God’s Word, we know everything we need to know to live an abundant life. We can know God. Know Jesus. Know the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Know that His promises are steadfast and sure. Like Paul, we know.
Paul was a tentmaker. So, he compared this body to a tent. Something temporary. Weak. And lacking beauty. But, there’s something we have. “A building from God.” A heavenly house. A glorified body. One that is permanent. Glorious. And immortal. Interestingly, he spoke of it like he was already in possession of it. And in his mind, he was.
No doubt the debilitating condition Jennie Wilson suffered led to a great deal of groaning. There’s no question, Paul suffered physically, mentally, and emotionally. He was beaten. Stoned. Imprisoned. Imperiled. Misrepresented. Misunderstood. And weary from his work for the Lord.
The problems, perplexities, and predicaments of our earthly existence produce either an audible groan or an inner sigh. And we all know the feeling when we suffer pain, experience loss, feel heartache and walk in the shadow of death.
Yet, through it all, Paul said, “we walk by faith and not by sight.” As Paul wrote earlier our focus is not on what we see, but on what we don’t see with the naked eye. What we literally see is temporal and transitory. But what we see through the eye of faith is spiritual and eternal (II Corinthians 4:16-18).
Thus, we walk in the light of God’s Word. We walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We walk in love. We walk according to our Christian calling. We walk in wisdom. And we walk not as pagan people in the lusts of their flesh. We walk according to His commandments. We walk in the Spirit.
The result of this approach to life is confidence. Assurance. Trust. And courage. Twice in the text, Paul expresses confidence in his eternal future.
We too, can take heart in this hope, and not lose heart regardless of life’s troubles, trials, and temptations to quit.
So, we share and sing with Jennie Wilson the sentiments of her song:
Trust in Him who will not leave you.
Whatsoever years may bring.
If by earthly friends forsaken,
Still more closely to Him cling.
Covet not this world’s vain riches
That so rapidly decay.
Seek to gain the heav’nly treasures.
They will never pass away.
When your journey is completed,
If to God you have been true,
Fair and bright the home in Glory
Your enraptured soul will view.
Hold to His hand, to God’s unchanging hand.
Hold to His hand, to God’s unchanging hand.
Build your hopes on things eternal.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.