March 28—How Great Thou Art

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,

Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in,

That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin. (“How Great Thou Art” by Carl Gustav Boberg; trans. Stuart K. Hine)

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1–5 NLT)

The story goes that Carl Gustav penned this hymn after he was caught in a thunderstorm off the southern coast of Sweden. The violence of the storm, followed by the return of the sun and the songs of the birds filling the air, caused him to fall on his knees in awe, worshipping the God who so easily held the storm in His hands and dispelled it with just as much ease. Gustav had a moment of insight into the grandeur and power of our God, but he also understood that creating the world, directing the movement of the stars, and setting the boundaries of a thunderstorm were but some of God’s awesome deeds that are worthy to be sung about. When writing the poem that through a series of translations and the addition of a melody would become “How Great Thou Art,” Gustav also included verses about God’s immense grace, the wonder of the cross, and God’s love for His people throughout history.

When pondering the greatness of our God, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking only of the grandiose and dramatic deeds He has done. To be certain, those deeds are worthy of praise, but our God is often making Himself known through the more gentle, quiet aspects of life: A father demonstrating to his daughter what it looks like to care for those in need. A pastor mourning with a stranger in a hospital room. A couple welcoming a teenage foster child into their home. A young boy mowing the lawn of a neighbor across the street while she is at her weekly chemo treatment. A Jewish rabbi washing the feet of His disciples on the night before He would be killed.

Keep your eyes open today for those moments, both quiet and grand, where you see God at work in our world. Pay special attention for those moments when God is prompting you to be the manifestation of His presence in our world.