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Unchanging Father

The pace of change today is staggering, as are the effects on human life, heart, mind, soul, and body. Yet the Bible says Jehovah never changes (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8). How does the unchanging character of God comfort you? How will you apply this truth to the children of God as you labor with them? 

We all know that feeling, the feeling of beginning something new, the anxiety that often comes with change. Old and young alike, we all face change to varying degrees in our lives. Whether it be a new job, a new school, going off to college, a first date, starting a new sport, moving into a new house, a different church, a new group of friends, being put in a nursing home, discovering a chronic illness, getting married, or becoming a parent, each of these events involves change, change from what we like to call “normal.” Change can also be an end to something, such as quitting or losing one’s job, losing a loved one, or graduating. In today’s society, the pace of change is rapid. Technology is constantly coming up with new and better models. Fashion trends are always coming in and out of style. Daily we are being reminded of changes in our country through the news: a new president, a new disease, new rules and regulations, and so forth. Even the church, a place of solitude, faces change. Change is inevitable and can easily become overwhelming. It will affect our minds, bodies, and souls. So how do we as Christians respond to change? Our response ought to be biblical, and it also ought to reflect to those around us that we place our trust in a God who is far greater than any sudden change that may come our way; we trust in the I AM, Jehovah, our covenant God. 

How we respond to change in our personal life will reflect itself in our interactions with others. If we respond to difficult changes with bitterness and anger, questioning God, we are no different from the world around us. By nature, this is our response. However, as regenerated children of God we have the calling to respond differently. We are called, and graciously equipped, to respond to changes in our lives with humble hearts that trust God’s perfect plan. Thus, as individuals, we need to be well-equipped and ready to face change. 

That preparation begins with the word of God. In order to face change, we must first understand what God says about change. Under divine inspiration, Solomon writes about change in Ecclesiastes 3:1–8. This well-known passage depicts the many changes that we endure in our lifetime. There are times for joy and laughter, and times of sorrow and weeping; times of gain and times of loss. God never promises us that he will only bless us with good changes. In fact, he tells us that we will suffer as his children, and we will endure chastisement under his loving and fatherly hand.  However, in the same word in which he reminds us that we will endure seasons of hardship and change, we are also assured that our heavenly Father is unchangeable; he is I AM and his promises will never fail. 

Understanding God to be our unchangeable God is important armor necessary to fight against temptations that come with change. God reminds us of his immutability in Malachi 3:6 when he says, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” What a comfort that word is to us! Because our sovereign God who rules and governs every detail of our lives changes not, we will not and cannot be consumed. No matter how hard Satan tries, he cannot take us from the hands of our God, for God’s promises of our salvation cannot be thwarted. God’s love for us will not change. His very name, Jehovah, Lord, the I AM THAT 

I AM, reminds us of that blessed truth. 

Reverend Miersma beautifully explains the nature of the name Jehovah in a past meditation in the Standard Bearer titled “God’s People Abiding Forever.” He says, “It [God’s name as Jehovah] reveals the essence of God. It implies, I am now, I am yesterday, I am from extreme past to eternity, I am forever, therefore unchangeable.”1 Further he explains, “He is the one continuously living being, never beginning, always being, never ending, always abiding.”2 Therefore, as this is God’s character in himself, so this is his character toward his people. The love that he has for us will never die. He is the one being in our life who will never change. Friends, siblings, parents, grandparents, coworkers, church members; they will all change. But our God will never change. He will be our immovable Rock that holds us up, our Shelter that can never be destroyed. This is our assurance in the storms of change. As God places us in the lowest valley or raises us to the highest mountain, we are reminded that I AM has a perfect plan. I AM will never leave us nor forsake us because he, our unchangeable God, promises us this in Deuteronomy 31:6 when he says, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Rest in his promises. Take shelter under his protective wings. Stand firm on Jehovah, our firm foundation. 

Another comforting attribute that accompanies God’s character as unchanging God is his sovereign providence over all creation. Because he is unchangeable, God’s providence is one of the most comforting truths for the child of God, for by it we are reminded that God will always work all things for the good of his children (Rom. 8:28). Our beloved Heidelberg Catechism testifies that to know the providence of God is of great advantage for us. Why? By truly knowing—not merely with a head knowledge but with a knowledge that embraces this doctrine as true for oneself personally—the doctrine of providence, we learn to be “patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and… in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from his love; since all creatures are so in his hand, that without his will they cannot so much as move.”3 By embracing this truth that nothing can separate us from Jehovah’s love, we are encouraged that all the changes, good and bad, that are brought to us by God’s sovereign hand are occurring for a perfect purpose. 

That new job that seems overwhelming and stressful now? God is working that for your good. All the many stresses of college that cause the student to question if this was really the right choice—God is using those stresses to strengthen you. Cancer, the wretched disease that robs one of his strength and seems to suck away the life of its prey—it too is used for good. Death, our final enemy, delivers the child of God from the evils of this life to a perfect life with God. It is sometimes difficult to see God working when we are in the storms of change. In these moments when the weight of the change shadows heavily over our eyelids, we sometimes need others to point out God’s work, to shine light, and to remind us that our unchanging Father has a perfect plan in this too. So, we who are in the blessing of change, be aware of those going through the shadows of change. Point them to Jesus, our firm foundation in all of life’s unruly storms. Point them to Jehovah, the I AM, who loves them in eternity and will never forsake them. 

And when we are going through the blessings of change—first dates, weddings, and the gift of children—may we be careful not to place our hopes in those blessings. Rejoice? Yes! For they are blessings, gifts from the Father. But those blessings too will change, and when those changes come, we need a firm foundation on which to lean. May we in every circumstance in our lives, whatever change we may be enduring, remember who our Father is. May we be grounded in our faith, rooted in his powerful and everlasting word of truth, so that when storms of change arise, we are not left standing in the blistering cold wondering what has happened, but rather are clinging tightly to the Rock, resting safely under the shelter of the Almighty’s wings (Ps. 91). 

All of us need to be reminded of this truth. However, teachers especially, who are entrusted with the hearts of several children who will all face changes of their own, need to know and embrace this truth. We ought to embrace this truth so strongly that the joy it brings us radiates and enlightens our students. Having a personal knowledge of God as unchangeable, which is only possible through a true faith, will equip us to face the many changes of life. It will also equip us to comfort and encourage our students when the storms of change come their way. 

Knowing Jehovah, the I AM, we can teach our students about who he is and about the nature of his beautiful promises to us. We can encourage them that even when things change in their lives and they don’t know how to feel about it, their loving Father will never change. 

 

Jori is a member of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church and is a junior in the elementary education program at Cornerstone University.