We serve a King who has power and authority, whose care extends even to the birds of the air (Luke 12:24). Nothing we experience is outside of his plan. He was not only with me, but he was with Ben each moment of each day, and no matter how hard I tried, and how much sleep I sacrificed, I couldn’t be “forever at hand.” Deuteronomy 31:6 puts it like this: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you: he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Many years ago when I was a student, I bought a copy of a hymn book. While the use of hymn books in church services is almost unheard of now, my hymnal has become a much-treasured possession, surpassed only by my Bible in its enrichment of my Christian life.
Hidden in this mine of blessings are the words of an eighteenth-century Church of England vicar, Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-78). Toplady is best known (or known at all) for his hymn, “Rock of Ages.” It is said that the inspiration to write this hymn came from an experience Toplady had being caught in a storm and seeking shelter in the fissure of a rock in the Mendip Hills in England.
Toplady wrote many other hymns, which have all but been forgotten. One of these rarely sung gems, “A Sovereign Protector I Have” has helped me as I’ve wrestled with my understanding of God’s sovereignty. And nowhere has this wrestling been more sustained than in my experience of motherhood.
There are larger age gaps between our children than my husband or I would have planned because of the miscarriages I suffered. In the upsetting void that followed my first miscarriage, I also grappled with the gloom of January and halted building work on our house, both adding to the bleakness. In this bleakness, I questioned the sovereignty of God. I didn’t deny the truth of God’s sovereignty, but I wrestled with how it was being manifested in my experience.