An acquaintance’s recent comment surprised me: “Change and decay all around.” This person subscribed to no religion or faith community, but sensed the futility of life even as the world moved, in its thinking, towards a better future.
His statement transported me mentally to a place where I had heard those words before. Our family was visiting an orphanage, cared for by two dear family friends. As the sun set and it was time for evening worship, about fifty children, who had lost both parents and/or been abandoned by family, stood with us, and sang a heartfelt song which included this phrase “Change and decay in all around I see. O Thou Who changest not, abide with me” (Some of you might remember the song now.) Those kids had nothing to look forward to in this world, except. . . . .except. . . . .except the knowledge that the God of Heaven and Earth will be with them, and see them through.
The words are from the famed hymn ‘Abide with me’, written by Henry F. Lyte, an Anglican pastor in the 19th Century, who died young due to chronic failing health. It seems like even in the 19th Century things weren’t getting any better. But Lyte held on to the God of Heaven and Earth through the dark valley of life. Here are some verses from his hymn, and I suggest you read it slowly, personally, deliberately, and as a prayer:
Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.When other helpers fail and comforts flee,Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs life’s little day;earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.Change and decay in all around I see.O Thou Who changest not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?Who like Thyself my guide and strength can be?Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless, ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Friend: as I read the Bible, I realize that things won’t get much better on this planet. God’s Word informs that as we near the glorious return of our Lord Jesus, bringing earth’s history to its end, it won’t be a smooth road till then. Sorry, life won’t go back to how it used to be a year ago. It might get very rough for some of us. As we witness change and decay all around us, our only sure hope is in the God of Heaven and Earth, the One who changest not. May we hold on to Him and let Him take us home. Maranatha🙏–
Pastor, Clifton Adventist Church