Corporate Recitation (Heidelberg Catechism)
Question 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”? Answer: That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; (a) who likewise upholds and governs the same by his eternal counsel and providence) (b) is for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father; (c) on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt, but he will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body (d) and further, that he will make whatever evils he sends upon me, in this valley of tears turn out to my advantage; (e) for he is able to do it, being Almighty God, (f) and willing, being a faithful Father.
Much is included in this description of our Great God. In contrast to some people’s version of God, (more like a big Santa-in-the-sky who’s making a list and checking it twice) our God is a powerful Creator, and a loving Preserver. God made the world out of nothing. He made the world without our help, and he preserves it without our help. God did not create the world and leave it alone to keep ticking by itself like a cosmic clock. Rather, the world keeps ticking because God guides it every second. God upholds the world and governs it actively, through his eternal plan. That plan in action is called providence. Through Christ’s work of redemption, God calls us his sons and daughters. We rely on him completely, for everything. We need to repent of our folly in thinking that we have earned anything. Everything we have, God has given us as a gift. This includes everything we wish we didn’t have. All troubles and afflictions come upon us from the hands of a wise and loving Father. There are many reasons why we must suffer hardships, but we trust in a wisdom higher than ours. God could preserve us from all the evils things that have happened to us. But, he chose not to. The only question is whether we will respond in loving trust, or whether we’ll try to figure a better way. Loving trust leads to the peace that passes all understanding. Trusting in our own reason leads to suicidal madness and hedonistic annihilation. Though we walk through a valley of tears, God prepares a table for us. If we confess our stubborn pride and folly to him, he will lead us out of the valley of the shadow of death and will make us lie down in green pastures.