This is another old favourite, would you believe I first met it in a school textbook? Which of us has never asked, "what is God doing?" when we go through seasons of extreme emotions, not just in our lives in general, but particularly in our relationship with Him? Sometimes there is just no discernible human reason why His comforting presence is so close to us some days, and, to our human perception, completely absent on others. Herbert's answer is the only one I have ever found that satisfies my soul on this; his final two verses have for many years been my prayer in the overwhelming moments.
THE TEMPER. (I)
HOW should I praise thee, Lord ! how should my rymes
Gladly engrave thy love in steel,
If what my soul doth feel sometimes,
My soul might ever feel !
Although there were some fourtie heav’ns, or more,
Sometimes I peere above them all ;
Sometimes I hardly reach a score,
Sometimes to hell I fall.
O rack me not to such a vast extent ;
Those distances belong to thee :
The world’s too little for thy tent,
A grave too big for me.
Wilt thou meet arms with man, that thou dost stretch
A crumme of dust from heav’n to hell ?
Will great God measure with a wretch ?
Shall he thy stature spell ?
O let me, when thy roof my soul hath hid,
O let me roost and nestle there :
Then of a sinner thou art rid,
And I of hope and fear.
Yet take thy way ; for sure thy way is best :
Stretch or contract me thy poore debter :
This is but tuning of my breast,
To make the musick better.
Whether I flie with angels, fall with dust,
Thy hands made both, and I am there.
Thy power and love, my love and trust,
Make one place ev’ry where.