SECURED ON A FIRM FOUNDATION | PSALM 19
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
—John Rippon, 1787
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
Does the world, its decay and depravity, feel heavy to you today? Think of the sun that warms the world with its heat—it warms you now too. Our God lives, and His glory is still around us. Colossians tells us that He sustains it all: “For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He sustains you, even in every strained inhale and exhausted exhale, even when breaths are sobs and eyes yield tears. He sustains your baby’s life this minute too—a heavenly life enjoying God’s glory in person.
You and I see evidences of God’s glory around us, even in a post-fall world, because God created it. Yet, perhaps acknowledging the beauty of this world feels to you like a betrayal of your baby. Maybe you think to yourself, Why should I enjoy any of this world when my child did not live to see it? As you pray about this, consider that you and your child both benefit from the glory of God right now, even if in different ways. You share in this together. Even if you cannot bring yourself to enjoy it quite yet, rest knowing that the glory of God being declared in creation still surrounds you, even if this day is dark.
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul”
Perhaps you are wondering if you will be under this veil of grief for the rest of your life—Will I ever feel like how I used to feel; will I ever feel any sort of normalcy? Think about what happens to our hearts as believers when we come to Christ—we come as needy sinners, dependent upon God for mercy and forgiveness. What do we find? We see that Christ died for sinners at the cross, taking the burden of our sins upon Himself such that we don’t need to carry it anymore. Once, our souls were lost in sin; now, they are alive because of Christ—they are revived.
The law—that is, the whole of the unchangeable, revealed will of God for us in the Bible—is perfect. We can look upon it with eyes of admiration and awe. The perfect Word is without error, a holy book to which you and I could add nothing, and this is the source of the revival of our souls after grief too.
As you grieve, you will need to rediscover something to live for, a purpose. Life will be different now—you will never be someone who has not lost your dear child. Yet, there is a place to gaze upon—the impeccable Word. Start with this book in your hands, start with Christ—start with remembering the spiritual revival that has come from His gospel and discover the renewal of your soul in grief through these same themes. Here, there is always breath to renew our souls. God’s Word is perfect, and thus, perfect for reviving us back to life.
We Can All Be Wise
“the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple”
Baby loss is something we could never have imagined before it happened to us. That parents could survive their children? That a precious, small, vulnerable child could be without life? It is too much to handle ourselves. Maybe you are questioning just about everything else in life now too. Nothing seems guaranteed. Nothing seems solid. Yet, there is a sure testimony to hear right now amidst any uncertainties circulating in the heart and mind—a joint testimony of people throughout history held in the divinely inspired Word of God (see Hebrews 11). This testimony is telling us that what God speaks to us in the Word is permanent, established, and lasting; it is truth that we can set ourselves upon.
Knowing God’s Word as a sure, fixed foundation of permanence enables us, no matter who we are, to be very wise. When I considered my set of needs after my daughter went to heaven, I wanted sure answers—solid, wise ones. Scripture gives this—it testifies to the sovereign goodness and perfection of God. I found in it treasures of lasting wisdom. Bring your questions, and most of all, seek to know Him who is all-wise!
To Know What Is Right
“the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart”
Do you feel like everyone is speak the wrong things to you right now? Nothing others say is right, and it feels crushing. The Bible, on the other hand, is always right. Even amidst the darkness of earthly life, it is right and good.
The Bible taught me that the glories of the next world outweigh what I had experienced in this world (Romans 8:18). It showed me that Jesus had compassion and was troubled, even angered, in spirit toward death as those dear to Him grieved Lazarus (John 13:21). It told me that God does work together my sorrows for His glory—and that He is my good (Romans 8:28). It said that from the imperishable seed of death, for those who are in Christ, comes life eternal (1 Corinthians 15:54). It told me that Christ’s resurrection means death no longer has power—and He will make death die at His appointed time (Romans 6:9; Revelation 20:14). It promised me a future without tears (Revelation 21:4). It reminded me that I am simply blessed to be a part of His story for this world (Colossians 3:17; Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16). It told me that God does not owe me any particular grace or gift for my life or my family, much less my own salvation, because all grace is undeserved (Romans 11:35; Romans 3:24; Acts 15:11)—I have much reason for gratitude. It told me that I have been bought with a price and am not my own, but belong to a great God whose goodness lasts and lasts (1 Corinthians 6:20; Psalm 136:1).
Each building block the Word has placed in my life is a source of tremendous, growing joy (Jeremiah 15:16). My heart was built for what is right; it is lost and confused when I don’t base my life on the Word of God and when those who speak into my life are not guided by it either. Being without an influx of the truth plus being in the depths of grief can lead to a great amount of despair that God does not want for any one of us (Matthew 9:36). So, He gave us His Word—to know what is right and to find the joy that comes from the truth.
Gaining Light Back in the Eyes
“the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes”
Do you feel with the psalmist: “My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me” (Psalm 38:10)? The Word of God with its power strengthens the heart and mind; the purity of God’s Word enlightens the eyes—as it is approached with humility. If I came to the Word of God with a stubborn, prideful self-exaltation that I might just know better than it, or presuming I can select only pieces of it to believe (to the exclusion of other pieces), I wouldn’t expect that I would be able to receive very much (James 4:6; Proverbs 9:10).
But if I approach the Word of God humbly, knowing I can bring nothing to God, asking that I might be helped by Him, that I might learn peace through seeing His exaltation and worth—then I will find my eyes enlightened by the Spirit. God is extraordinarily tender and patient; also, He is always just and true.
As part of coming to Scripture, I should expect to be taught about how to abandon my sins—the Lord’s words teach me about what is pure, and I am not pure in and of myself (2 Timothy 3:16). I have no reason to believe that personal sin caused my loss (John 9:2-3); separately, I know that sensitive days of grief also do not make me exempt from the capability to sin. So I am glad to be led to repentance through the Word. Confessing my sins to God brings me closer to knowing Him in my heart, and it makes me more pleasing in my conduct to Him. It enlightens my eyes to the purity for which my heart was made. It refreshes me in His kindness and forgiveness (Romans 2:4), which are jointly the basis for my joyful obedience to Him (1 John 5:3).
When all of our strength is gone, we can ask for His grace and find that this brings a purity into our lives. This gives an assured glow behind the eyes. It gives fuel when all other strength is gone, because the purity of the Word of God is pure food, without which spiritual starvation occurs. Having a growing hunger for righteousness means you, sister, are blessed by His light (Matthew 5:4).
Pivot Toward What Is Enduring
“the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.”
Because Christ bore my sins on the cross and gave grace on the basis of His righteousness, I am freed to love the law—and character of God displayed there—instead of live under the law’s unbearable yoke. I can live out righteousness that endures forever. Rules and righteousness are able to make me thrive under Christ’s yoke (Psalm 1:1-3; Matthew 11:30), because I have been re-wired to love what delights His heart. What does this have to do with grief? There might be a temptation after loss to turn inward, being self-focused, and stay there indefinitely because this is a fragile time in life when the help of others is dearly welcomed. And I hope you find help many times over.
There also comes a time in grief to pivot outward—to ask how you might serve and reflect God to those around you—if you have not yet. See where He leads you as you seek to know and display Him—and I guarantee that it will be toward what is clean, true, good, and right. When King Jesus is on the throne leading my life, I am following and fearing the One who is righteous and reigning forever. In fearing God, I know that my delight is to please Him.
Today might be a day for you to receive from others. Or, if you feel stuck today, perhaps this is what you could benefit from hearing: pivot outward toward serving God and others. You have been given understanding of the depths of sorrow and the value of human life because of loss—I imagine you know others who can benefit from your compassion!
The sorrows of this life are not enduring forever, but righteousness—in which I can walk with freedom through the cross—does endure to eternity.
Break through Grief
“More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”
As you return to your life and take steps forward on this earthly ground again, I want to encourage you that the “new normal” can be beautiful. But to get there, you are going to have to take a big step, if you have not already. Moving forward in life means coming to a day when you break through your grief to say that there is Someone more valuable to you than your child, than being a mother, and than your family. I say this with the deepest sensitivity toward you.
Modern life is fast, filled with new posts, new statuses, and many changes—but true delight is found in what is timeless and unchanging. It is found in the Lord—revering Him as God over me and Master in me, the One upon whom I can depend in all situations for His infinite wisdom, sovereignty, and goodness. In the rules and precepts of the Word, more of God can be discovered. David could say that he loved the Word of God more than owning the greatest riches, and more than the sweetest desire satisfied. The Word is a wellspring of life to those who come and drink; it is where I find a dear Savior and submit to a trustworthy Master, my all in all circumstances—more to be desired than the greatest gold of my life.
Learning What to Heed
“Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
Through this devotional series so far, we have explored what it means to love the Word of God. It teaches us the gospel, the good news that we can be freed from sin and self, and thrust onto a beautiful Savior. It gives wisdom amidst the seemingly uncontrollable storm of grief. It is right and true, a solid and secure foundation for rebuilding life. It gives strength and light because of the purity it places within the heart.
I have something to ask you today—do you know you are a Christian who belongs to God forever? Perhaps you have never confessed your sins to Him, turning from them with faith in Christ (Acts 3:19) who alone can save you (Titus 3:5; Romans 6:14; Romans 8:2). The reading of God’s Word reveals warnings. Without God, none of us are destined for heaven (Romans 6:23), and we cannot reach heaven by ourselves, because our own good works are self-produced “righteousness” as good as filth (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23).
The holy glory of God is so grand and He is so just a Judge that I would stand condemned in my sin if I did not place the faith of my life in Christ (John 3:18). But this is the good news—I have trusted Christ, my Lord. And so, I can know that He has taken on Himself the condemnation for my sins so that I can truly live freed from the burden of them. And you are invited to do this too! What reward is found in the Scriptures—we learn there of this Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:9; Romans 8:1)!
Have you slowed yourself before the warnings and rewards of His Word, heeding them? Have you found King Jesus the Savior of your soul, welcoming His forgiveness and His holy reign?
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.”
I don’t know what kind of regret or guilt you might be carrying today surrounding the death of your child. But the following two truths cover both true and false guilts.
First, the cross of Christ means that if you are a believer, you are declared innocent from known and hidden faults. This is sweet relief. Find freedom in the innocence He lays over you, yours forever. Believer, God has forgiven you from everything; it could be no other way because our perfect Christ has provided this. You are declared innocent (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Second, the Word of God is life-giving precisely for people who cannot boast in having perfect knowledge of the future, but who instead want to boast in God: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD” (Jer. 9:33-34). Sister, you didn’t know what you didn’t know. When I was in the hospital for a check-up and the doctor offered to deliver a healthy baby less than 24 hours before her heartbeat left her—and I declined—I didn’t know what I didn’t know either. I cannot boast in having all-seeing wisdom, but I do boast in a wise God who will accomplish all of His purposes (Isaiah 46:10).
“Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”
Sin and grief become entangled. Grief is a storm. Sin is a burden. And separating the two accurately so that we can understand them can be a steep challenge at times. The psalmist’s theme is a comforting one that I echo—hold me back from sin. After enduring loss, I have become convinced all the more deeply with truths surrounding life and death, perspectives about the future, and the value of life and time—and re-examining my convictions has been good. Yet, I have learned to ask: How am I using these convictions to think about others?
I have needed to think about the meditations of my heart. I have needed to listen to what I have been thinking in the moments of my life that now feel all too quiet. I have asked: Am I disparaging others in any way, ignoring God in any way, or diminishing myself, though I am God's child—actually, a form of pride—in any way? Am I giving time to thinking about what is simply not true?
Take every thought back to the foundation of your rock, Christ in His Word, the One who has redeemed your life from every darkness, now and, finally, in eternity. What churns within? God’s Word can change the course of my thoughts, as needed, and let my mind become replenished with new meditations.
God’s Word refreshes us; it changes us. Let our meditations be pleasing to You; let them be true!
SOURCES CONSULTED FOR THIS SERIES:
The ESV Study Bible
The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (General Editors)
A Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, Robert Jamieson and Andrew Robert Fausset
These posts were originally published at Hope Mommies.