“Remember that you were formerly gentiles in the flesh — called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision in the flesh by hands — that you were at that time without Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and a stranger to the covenant and the promise, being without hope and an atheist in the world.”
Would suppose that most atheists would not describe themselves as “without hope in this world.” Many would consider them free from the rules and bonds that the Christian gratefully lives under — commandments that we see as freeing and that teach us how to live faithfully and joyfully in this fallen world that is around us. They would see the commandments of God as fetters to their absolute liberty.
Yet, scripture offers a different picture. Of what value is hope if it is unfulfilled? Of what worth is hope if its only efficacy is your own work? Hope becomes an illusion and a opioid to get us through the day, yet without meaning or substance. The hope of the atheist is nothing more than that if he really works hard, he may or may not make something of himself in this life before he dies. Yet, this life is filled with disease, pestilence, and evil-doers. What hope is there in such a worldview? As would be echoed in the words of the American philosopher, Albert Camus, the only thing left is whether or not to contemplate the question of suicide. Or, in the words of Irene Luce, “Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.” While the phrase has been glamorized by film and novel, it is a horribly hopeless way to live one’s life and the mantra is little more than a smokescreen for a depressed and depraved soul.
So, yes, my friends, those without hope in God are hopeless in this world…and not just any God. Those without hope in Jesus Christ are hopeless in life and under judgement and wrath in death. A more somber picture one cannot paint.
“The man who is stupid does not know;
The ignorant one does not understand this.”
The language of one who is stupid and ignorant is used in a very specific way in the Bible. Today, we often refer to people who are uneducated as ignorant and use the term “stupid” as more of an insult. We might cruelly comment, “What are you stupid or something,” if someone just does not understand a basic idea.
But the Bible prefers to reserve these terms for a very specific class of people: those who pursue idols. It is the stupid man who bows down to idols of silver or of wood or who crafts such abominations for sale amongst the people. Those who are ignorant are ignorant in practical aspects of living — they cannot make the kind of decisions that will be wise for them or for their families. And since the fear of the Lord is the most basic decision we can make that leads to knowledge and wisdom, those who reject such fear reject that which will allow them to make wise decisions and live life well.
And thus, those who pursue idols or the illusion of atheism do not understand this. But what is the “this” in question? It is the strength of God and his mighty works. They don’t understand the basis for worship. For them, coming to church is either habit or foolishness, they don’t see it as an engaging with the God of the universe who rules over all things.
The condemnation, then, is there, for there are many in our communities and even in our churches that are stupid and ignorant because of their attitude toward God and life. And one need not be conscientiously an idol worshipper or atheist to fall into this category; many do so by their actions. So, beloved, the question is first, will we look at our own lives and honestly ask ourselves whether we are guilty of such things? And then, will we address those areas in a way that honors our God? In addition, will we then share what we do know about the power of God with those who are ignorant and stupid in our midst, pointing them to the God who claims our allegiance, our worship, and our obedience in every area of our lives…not just in what we do in church.
I suppose that I should make one qualification up front. And that is that I personally know a number of non-Christians who are very thankful people and who thoroughly enjoy the celebration of this American holiday. There can be no doubting the deep Christian roots of this event, but regardless of one’s faith (or lack thereof), there is much in life to be thankful for as Americans. I should also state up front that many people (Christians included) live out their lives holding to a variety of inconsistencies without paying them any mind or suffering as a result of said inconsistencies — such is the natural end of living in a post-modern world. My intent here is not so much to argue the merits of a thoroughly consistent worldview, but rather to raise the question of Thanksgiving for the atheist, assuming the value of a consistent worldview.
To begin with, there are several categories by which we may mark our thankfulness. The first, we could think of as “personal thankfulness,” which would reflect a certain sense of satisfaction for having made choices or having done something that brought benefits to your life. “I am so glad that I chose such-and-such a restaurant for dinner” or “I am thankful that I chose to strive for this goal” are the kinds of mental thoughts that would accompany this kind of thankfulness. This thankfulness is good and important, but I would suggest that it makes up a smaller percentage of the state of our thankfulness than one might initially think. Simply put, often that restaurant was suggested by a friend or we were helped to the particular goal by others and the timing was perfect for you to be successful. Thus, this kind of thankfulness often is at least partially dependent on events or persons outside of you as an individual.
And that, then, leads us to the second kind of thankfulness: thankfulness toward others. This reflects the kind of thankfulness that is directed towards another human being who has done something that has benefitted you. It might be a nice gift, but it also might be found in the form of advice, counsel, or even a rebuke. As I look back on my life, I am very thankful toward certain friends of mine who had the integrity to tell me that I was about to make a stupid mistake if I took this or that action. I might not have felt thankful at the moment, we seldom do when people speak truth to us, but over time, once my ego stopped swelling and my self-defense mechanisms returned to their proper place, I realized the wisdom of what was told to me and was thankful to have such friends.
Yet, again, this kind of thankfulness, while common to our experience, likely does not make up as large a proportion of our total thankfulness as we might think. The reality is that even in cases like this, there are still elements of providence (the atheist would likely call them coincidence) that are outside of the control of either you or the person toward whom you are thankful. For example, there are chance meetings that brought about conversations that led to the advice (or whatever) you happened to be given. And how did you make such a friendship? The singular friendship that I have maintained from my years at the University is that of a lady with whom I happened to get lost on campus. It seems that the two of us were given wrong information as to where a certain English class was to meet and we both ended up in the wrong corridor together at the same time. The typo on our course-lists, the fact that neither of us had received the correction (when most of the class did), and the timing by which we bumped into each other were all elements that were outside of our direct or indirect influence. I am thankful for all of these events because she and I have kept up correspondence over the years and have encouraged one another as we have both gone our separate ways in life. If we are honest as we survey the landscape of our experience, there are numerous such events that can be traced in our lives for which we are surely thankful. Again, some would call these things coincidence, from a Christian perspective, I choose to use the term “providence.”
Thus far, at least in the immediate sense of personal satisfaction and thankfulness to someone for kindness, there is no contradiction between the atheistic worldview and said thankfulness. In fact, were an atheist choosing not to be thankful for these things, one would have to draw the conclusion that something was wrong with the person’s thinking. Yet here is where the consistency comes to an end, for how is it that someone can direct their thankfulness toward someone (or something) in which he does not believe? Let me explain.
If I am given a gift, while I am thankful for the gift, I will typically express that thanks toward the one from whom the gift came (to do otherwise would be considered rude). That is easy enough to do when a friend or neighbor gives something to us, but what about when providence shines its face upon our lives? To whom (or to what) does the atheist express his thanks? Arguably, one of the reasons that ancient man began worshipping idols was to solve this dilemma. At least in the stone representation of that which his imagination dictated was the source of good things, one could then direct one’s thanksgiving. Yet, the atheist does not set up idols of wood or stone.
The likely answer to this dilemma that the modern atheist will bring to the table falls into one of two categories. One view is to argue that all things are determined by a sequence of cause and effects and thus these things took place and they could not have not taken place. This worldview is referred to as “fatalism” and is a form of deterministic approach. The atheist who holds to this view ought, then, be thankful for nothing (for what happened logically must have happened and could not have been otherwise) or recognize that their thankfulness also is simply a result of chemical interactions that are a result of causes (and again could not have been otherwise), thus making the idea of thankfulness devoid of meaning (it is simply an experience). Any discussion of thanksgiving, from a fatalistic perspective, reduces itself to meaningless absurdity and is thus neither internally consistent nor helpful if one is trying to be consistent with their worldview.
The second, and arguably more palatable, solution of the dilemma as to whom shall we express our thankfulness is to argue that what I am referring to as “providence” is nothing more than pure random chance and thus, I am not thankful to chance, but thankful for chance, in turn, never directing one’s thanksgiving toward someone or something. Yet, how can one be thankful for something that is purely random? Even the craps-shooter praises “Lady Luck” for his good-fortune with the dice. It is not that which is random that we are thankful for, but we are thankful for that which guides or superintends that which is perceived to be random. Granted that the atheist will likely counter that we simply perceive someone guiding “chance events,” but our perception is little more than a figment of our own imaginations. Certainly, the question as to whether God is a figment of our imagination or not is a discussion to be pursued, but not here because this response of the atheist is meant to do little more than to distract from the question at hand: can an atheist be thankful in a meaningful way while still being consistent within his atheism. The answer to the matter must be “no,” for thankfulness must be directed outside of oneself, particularly for the events and circumstances that we have no control over. I am thankful, for example, that I was born and raised in the United States of America in a middle-class home with a family who loved me. This very fact has afforded me opportunities that I would not have had were circumstances different. Yet there is not one aspect of these circumstances that I can say that I had any control over. I might thank my parents for loving me and for their choice to reside in America, but their choice to do so was also based on events that were outside of their sphere of influence (where there were jobs, etc…).
So, where does that lead us? No, I do not expect a run of atheists coming into the church, giving up their unbelief, and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior because their worldview has inconsistencies. Sure, it could happen, but that would be a work of the Holy Spirit, not the work of a logical argument. In addition, it should be noted that Christians are not the only ones who can appeal to this kind of argument, any religious institution that envisions their gods interacting with the lives of men can appeal in similar ways. My purpose is to appeal to what I believe is an inward desire that we each have — and that is to have a worldview that is consistent with experience, reason, and itself. I have had atheists say to me, “I am thankful for my inconsistency,” but deep down, is that a very satisfying way to live? Is intellectual inconsistency either satisfying or something to thank oneself for? I would suggest it is not and would counter that intellectual consistency is not only satisfying, but it is something we desire deep down (and ought to because we are made in the image of a God who is perfectly consistent with himself).
Let me paint a picture for you of a culture where the Senate ruled over the people and the “commoners” had little say over what laws were enacted in the land. The culture that I am describing was one where many flocked to the cities of jobs, though they would only earn poverty level wages. Healthcare was available, but only for those who had the wealth to afford it; most suffered under whatever folk remedies happened to be available. Infectious disease was rampant in the poor sections of the cities and the government did little more than turn a blind eye to their situation. About the only thing that the society could expect in terms of assistance was a little bit of free grain and free tickets to an occasional arena even — “bread and circuses.”
I am trusting that this description sounds fairly familiar, but I am not talking about our own society, but am instead talking about the first century Roman empire. For the elite, it was a comfortable time in history: there was art, culture, relative order in the empire, abundant access to wealth, and there was rule of law to keep the “rabble” in their place. For the poor, it was a life of hard labor, starvation, and death. The bread was meant to keep the poor working and the tickets to the games was meant to keep the poor from revolting — the ancient precursor to television, one might argue. And it is into this world that God chose to send his Son, taking on flesh and living not amongst the rich, but amongst the poor.
It has been said that compassion is a character trait that is learned, not one that is natural to us. Our default is typically to take care of “ol’ number one” first and others second. If that is the case, and I think that there is merit to the idea, then the ultimate teacher of compassion is God himself. In both Hebrew and Greek, the same word is used to describe both compassion and mercy, and that is what God was doing when he sent his Son to come into this world, to live amongst us, and to die to atone for our sins.
But the question of compassion must not end with the compassion of God. We need to ask the question as to whether or not we have learned compassion from His example. You see, compassion cannot be modeled by the pagan gods, which are made of wood and stone — they neither move nor see nor hear, so how can they extend compassion to any? Compassion cannot be modeled by the gods of nature, for nature is cruel and only the strong survive. And compassion is not modeled by the god of the atheist, for their god is their own mind and reason, thus any action taken will be self-serving. If the God of Christianity, then, has modeled compassion to us, shouldn’t then we who have received the compassion of God also be the most compassionate people in the world?
In ancient Rome, that became the case. One of the first things that Christians did in ancient Rome was to establish hospitals that welcomed all, rich and poor. These hospitals were staffed with doctors, pharmacists, teachers for the children, caretakers for orphans, nurses, people to care for lepers, surgeons, cooks, priests, laundry women, and pallbearers. Never in the history of the world had such institutions been established and the Roman elites looked at the Christians and just did not understand why believers were doing what believers were doing. And Christianity thrived even in an empire where professing Christians were persecuted and sentenced to death within those circuses that everyone attended.
Something has happened though. Today, it would seem, Christians are often seen as self-serving and insulated from the pain and misery of the world around them. Pagans no longer shake their heads in disbelief at the compassion we are willing to show to the poor and suffering, but describe Christians as being just as “self-seeking” as the next group of people.
So what is the solution? The solution is not to win more political elections and gain power to enact laws to protect the “Christian way of life.” Such laws are not bad, but legislation cannot transform a culture. The early Christians turned Rome inside out without ever getting a seat in the Roman Senate. The early Christians turned Rome on its head by sacrifice and compassion for those in need. If we, as modern Christians, desire to see America turned on its head, this is the model that God himself has set for us — radical compassion, grace, and mercy. Such is what God demonstrated when he sent Christ to us as a baby in that manger and such is the kind of compassion that we ought to emulate as we live our lives amongst a people who reject the truth for which we stand.
Recently, I heard a challenge to Christianity that was worded like this: “The only reason you identify yourself as Christian is because you were born in America; if you had been born in Iraq, you would be Muslim and if you had been born in northern India, you would be Hindu—religion is nothing more than a cultural expression of morality.” The person making the challenge was Richard Dawkins, a popular atheist in our culture today. Though I had not heard that objection worded in the same basic way, I have heard this objection of Christianity before, and thought that I would like to pose a response from two perspectives.
The first perspective is purely a practical one, for I know that there are many nominal Christian parents that are essentially banking on this principle, hoping that their children will remain Christian (at least in name), while never truly training their children up in the faith. They think that of course, America is a Christian nation, so of course, my children will remain Christians all of their life. This not only exposes a faulty understanding of Christianity (as I will mention below), but it is a dangerous assumption, for America is becoming more and more of a secular, atheistic nation, and not a Christian one. Thus, some are estimating that as many as 80% of teenagers leave the church when they hit their college years, often without returning. Don’t get me wrong, many of them still think of themselves as Christian, but their Christianity has no bearing on the way they live their lives and for all practical purposes, they are secular humanists in practice and thought.
Furthermore, many of these children will openly reject Christianity because they see how self-serving, jaded, lazy, and corrupt so many churches have become. Many embrace the atheism of their college professors, but others are embracing false religions like Islam because they are attracted to the self-discipline and rigid lifestyle that such religions offer. We should not need to be reminded that one of the reasons that the Byzantine empire fell so easily to the Muslim expansion was due to the corruption and self-seeking nature of the church—people saw its weaknesses and rejected it as diseased and dying. Such an observation has been made of much of the church in America. Thus, it is not enough that we are actively pursuing the Christian faith, it is essential for us to recognize that our children must be actively pursuing the Christian faith as well.
That is the purely practical perspective, now for the theological one… While many religions may very well be simply cultural expressions of morality, Christianity, by definition, is different. For in Christ, we are called “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)—in other words, we are changed from the outside in. Christianity is not a mere self-help program, it is a total change of lifestyle that can only be accomplished if one is supernaturally changed by God—we refer to this as being “born again” (John 3:3). This change is impossible to do for oneself, but God must effectively draw us to Christ as well (John 6:44). God draws us from the world, God gives us new life, and God makes us a new creation. This is more than mere morality, it is transformation. And, it is a transformation that takes place all over the world, even in countries where you can be put to death for claiming Christ as Lord and Savior.
The sad thing is that too many Christians simply treat Christianity as a self-help program, and when that happens, they do not live like new creations and Christianity becomes nothing more than a social norm—a norm that is quickly being redefined in America.
“I have made your name known to the people whom you gave me out of this world; they were yours, even so, you gave them and they have guarded your word.”
Jesus has made the Father’s name known. What a remarkable statement this is! Often we find agnostics speaking of their pursuit of God; philosophers of ages past have sought to understand the nature of the invisible God behind the universe—yet these always rely on their own strength. God even goes as far as to pronounce that he will be hidden from his enemies (Genesis 4:14; Matthew 11:25), yet revealed in the Son alone. Thus, John earlier records:
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Path, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’”
The Apostle Paul even goes as far as to write:
“To me, the least significant of the saints, this grace was given, to proclaim the good news of the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the nations, and to illuminate that which is the plan of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God who created all things in order that the multi-faceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.”
In other words, the plan of God to reveal himself in his Son has intentionally been kept hidden from the world until God revealed his Son, Jesus Christ. In turn, God has also given the church the task of making this great truth known to a world that has been kept in darkness, awaiting the preaching of the Gospel. No matter how hard the philosopher or the agnostic “searches” for God, he will not find God apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But for those who hear the word preached, there is eternal life.
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
Many are rather uncomfortable with just how “exclusive” the claims of Christ are—Jesus leaves us with no room to suggest that there is any other way to genuinely know God than through Him. Now, it is true that God reveals enough about himself in the natural world as to leave mankind without an excuse (Romans 1:18-20). Yet, as we have been discussing, He remains veiled apart from his Son, Jesus Christ. It is like being caught in a maze. The very existence of the maze points to a creator and the logic of the maze implies that there is an exit; yet the only exit door by which you may meet the Creator and enjoy life is the Creator’s Son, Jesus Christ. Apart from him, you become more and more befuddled and feebleminded by the complexity and darkness of the maze.
Yet, loved ones, note the joy with which Paul proclaims that it has been given to him to preach the good news of the “incomprehensible riches of Christ” to the unbelieving nations. This task, which we call the Great Commission, belongs to you and to me as well. Let us indeed rejoice in this task, but let us also engage the world as we live out this great and wonderful responsibility, for Christ has revealed the Father to a world that is dark and filled with unbelief. Let us reveal Christ so they might have light and hope.
“And now, glorify me, Father, with yourself, in the glory, which I had with you before the cosmos existed.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word with God, and God was the Word. This one was in the beginning with God.
In these last days he spoke to us through the Son, whom he established as heir of all things, through whom he also created the ages. Who being the radiance of the glory and the exact image of his essence, also bearing all things in the word of his power; after making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
The one who was from the beginning, the one we have heard, the one we have seen with our eyes, the one which we have seen and touched with our hands-concerning the Word of life.
(1 John 1:1)
Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God, was with God from the beginning, came to earth to take on flesh, suffer, and die for a sinful people, and was then exalted back into glory to the praise of his glorious name, forever and ever, amen. This is one of those passages of scripture that we need to come back to over and over again, not only for our devotional nourishment, but also to remind us and embolden us against those who reject the spiritual truth that this short verse sets before us.
There are many in this world who like to think of Jesus as a wise teacher and some form of exalted man. The Jews claim that Jesus was a prophet, but nothing more; the Muslims claim he was a prophet who ascended into heaven. The Mormons hold that Jesus was a divine human, one who, by a perfect life, was given the reward of being a god. Many “New Agers” hold that Jesus was a form of mystic, a guru from which wise lessons can be learned, and atheists hold every position possible from that he was a wise teacher to that stories of him were manufactured by the church to gain power—a great conspiracy theory. Yet, the Bible is clear that Jesus is God and he was never created, but has always existed as the second member of the Trinity. Jesus speaks here of the glory he had with the Father (as they are one) before the cosmos began. Oftentimes the term ko/smoß (cosmos) is translated as “world in our Bibles, and such is a legitimate translation, but in the context of this passage, the cosmos is meant to include the whole of the created order—all there is, everything that exists in the universe, the visible and the invisible which came into being through the Son (Colossians 1:16). Here, Jesus is reminding us that when Genesis 1:1 begins with the language, “In the beginning God…” it is speaking about him. Thus, if you deny that Jesus is God or that he was pre-existent, then you are denying the Bible itself as well as what Jesus taught about himself. Such is true of all false religions.
Yet, what does it mean for Jesus to speak of desiring to be glorified with the glory he once had? Is this to imply that Jesus somehow lost his glory during the time of the incarnation and had to gain it back? Not exactly. The Apostle Paul addresses this question to the Philippian church, describing Jesus as having veiled his glory in flesh for the purpose of coming and redeeming his people (Philippians 2:6-8). In turn, God has publicly glorified his Son, not only exalting him above all creation, but in the last days, that exaltation will be public to all of the world and then every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11)—some to glory and some to their own condemnation (John 3:18).
Beloved, how clear it will be on that day, yet, do not think that it is so unclear today. God has given us his word and plainly taught us that no man can be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Romans 10:9; 1 John 2:23). And God has testified as to the truth of his word through signs and prophesies all fulfilled in history. And to we who believe, the Spirit testifies in our hearts (1 John 5:7). If such is true, why are Christians so often timid in sharing that which we know is true? Some will say, I suppose, that they don’t wish to offend, yet will not be concerned about offending if a conversation about politics arises. Others will say that they don’t feel equipped enough or knowledgeable enough to speak on these matters, yet never pursue that knowledge through a study of God’s word. Loved ones, let us not make excuses, but prepare ourselves well to engage the culture and speak of what we know to be true. It will only be in doing so that this culture will be turned from its wicked ways and will repent; will you not be a part of God’s great work of salvation by sharing truth with an unbelieving world, one person at a time?
“Why should the nations say,
‘Now, where is their God?’
Our God is in the heavens—
All that he delights in, he does.”
Indeed, those who have made gods to worship out of gold and silver do look at us and ask us how we can worship a God that we can neither see nor touch? The psalmist’s reply is an important one. Often, when we are pressed with the same question from a secularist, we retreat and are a bit defensive with our answer. We usually say something to the extent of, “well, it takes faith…” Or, if we are a bit more astute, one of the classic answers that is given is, “you cannot see the wind, but you see the effects of the wind—so it is with the Holy Spirit and with those born again of the Holy Spirit,” making a reference to Jesus’ language before Nicodemus. Yet, there is nothing defensive about the psalmist’s response. The psalmist replies to the question by saying, “Our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases.” Do you see what the psalmist is doing here? It is as if the psalmist is saying—you are criticizing me for not having a god made out of metal or stone that I can see, but your gods are inanimate objects—the creation of your own hands—how can I bow down to one who is incapable of answering my prayers? I worship a God who rises high above the heavens—he cannot be constrained by puny things of metal or stone, nor can he even be constrained by the world itself—and all that takes place is a result of my God’s good will. So, who will you worship, the god formed out of the dirt by the sweat of your own brow, or the God who created the dirt and all that is around with but a word of his power. Beloved, statements like this are anything but defensive, they cut to the quick, and address the problem at hand—who is the true God of heaven and earth and what ought to be done with all of the bad imitations?
Loved ones, why are we so often intimidated when people challenge our faith? We know the effect of the hand of God in our own lives, we have seen God’s work in the world, and we know the truth of God that is found preserved for us within the Holy Scriptures. In addition, creation itself testifies to God’s majesty! Where is there room for anything but bold assurance? It is not incumbent upon us to prove to the atheist that God does exist—it is his responsibility to prove that God does not exist if he wants to hold a position that is so contrary to reason and observation. Because we have allowed ourselves to be intimidated by academic degrees and titles, we have allowed unbelievers to turn the tables on us, forcing Christians to swallow lies in the name of “science”—lies that do not even stand up to the secularist’s own scientific methods of scrutiny.
The final statement is also telling for two reasons. First of all, it compliments the previous statement about God in the heavens. We do not worship a God that was like the gods of the Greek philosophers—ones who were transcendent and so separate from the world that they do not act, but only observe—but we worship a God who does act within the realms of men. But what is also important is that not only does God act, he takes pleasure in his acting. We spend a lot of time talking about God’s sovereignty and that he works out all things according to the council of his own will (Ephesians 1:11), but we often neglect the principle that is expressed here—that God does take pleasure in his actions.
Beloved, think on things this way: God is satisfied with himself to such a wonderful degree that all that he thinks and does brings him pleasure. And, to continue the line of thought to its logical end, if God finds his ultimate satisfaction in himself and finds profound pleasure in all that he does, we can find our ultimate satisfaction in Him and pleasure in all that he does in our lives. That is an easy statement to agree with when things are going well, but what about when the world around us seems to be falling apart? Can you affirm, even in the midst of your greatest heartache, that God is still working all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose? Though we may struggle with it, this is exactly how we should be thinking. Our God rules the creation and works out his good pleasure in your life and in mine; let us strive to take our pleasure in the working out of these things by his strong and steady hand—finding our hope and satisfaction in Him and in Him alone.