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We all have favorite seasons, times of the year, days of the week, and times of the day. Some people love the still darkness of the early morning before the sun rises. Others love the tranquility of the evening as the sun sets. I myself love every season and all times of the year. I have always enjoyed waking on Monday mornings with a full week of work ahead, because I love my work. Being an early riser, I enjoy the quiet and the anticipation of the day ahead. However, my favorite time is the remains of the day as the sun sets, when I get to return home to my beloved wife and children, and, by God’s sustaining grace, I have made it through one more day and am thus one day nearer to my heavenly home. Perhaps partially for that reason, one of my favorite hymns has long been the nineteenth-century hymn “Abide with Me” by Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847).
Throughout much of his life, Lyte suffered from poor health, and he would regularly leave England to find relief. He eventually developed tuberculosis and died at the age of fifty-four. His daughter recounted the circumstances in which “Abide with Me” was written: “The summer was passing away, and the month of September—that month in which he was once more to leave his native land—arrived, and each day seemed to have a special value as being one day nearer his departure.” It is little wonder, then, that the first and second verses of the hymn are: “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 out 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.”
All of us, to some degree, have suffered in this life. Some of us have suffered greatly. Yet as the hymn reminds us, our Lord abides with us in every season of our lives. People will fail us; comforts will flee; change and decay will continue to take place all around us and within us; but our God changes not. He is our infinite, eternal, and unchangeable God, and we live before His face, coram Deo, each and every day—resting in the glorious truth that our God, by justifying us and uniting us to Christ, abides with us through the Holy Spirit within us. So, we can rest assured that during our most beloved times as well as during our most difficult seasons, the eternal God who created time, who is sovereign over time, and who works in time, is with us and will never leave or forsake us.