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by Barbara Rainey
Those who go down to the sea in ships, . . . they have seen the works of the LORD. PSALM 107:23-24
One song that really gets me in the mood for Thanksgiving—even though it’s not really a Thanksgiving song—is the official U.S. Navy hymn: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”
I didn’t grow up hearing it (my father was in the Army, after all), but it has become one of those captivating songs that reminds me of God’s protection in times of great stress and worry.
If you saw the film The Perfect Storm, you may remember hearing this song at the end of that movie. Its roots actually go back to the mid-1800s, when William Whiting wrote these words to encourage a student who was traveling by ship from Great Britain to America and was paralyzed with fear that the vessel would sink and that he would be drowned.
Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bid’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!
Some years later, it seems, an American sailor heard this song while on duty in England and brought it back to the Naval Academy choir, where it’s still sung today at the close of Sunday services.
I’m sure your year has had its share of “peril on the sea” in one form or another—health scares or job insecurities, money troubles or family tensions, close calls or lingering pressures. Like a stormy tempest on the ocean, some things are simply more powerful than we are. But whether sailor or not, we all need to know that nothing is more powerful than the One who measures our path and guards our way—the One who calms the seas—the One we praise in this season of Thanksgiving.
What peril has God brought you out of—or is even now seeing you through?
Thank God for His great and mighty power in the midst of our perfectly harrowing storms.