Oh, For Grace to Trust Him More
“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word…”
I heard those words early this morning driving from the airport in Atlanta, 90 miles down the road to Warner Robins for a series of work meetings.
It was pouring rain, there was lightning and thunder in the sky and water on the roadway, but still the ride was smooth – I had scored a free upgrade to a Jeep Renegrade SUV, and I felt perfectly safe.
Yet my soul and heart were uneasy. I love my job; very much so. I don’t really mind the occasional travel it requires. I enjoy meeting with my team members in different cities, to do excellent work. They are among some of the finest people in our industry. Plus, they are just fun to be around.
But the timing of this trip was not good for my crew — my kids and me. Some challenging situations have cropped up in the past 8 to 10 days, making it much harder to leave them this time.
So when I turned on Pandora and this old hymn came on expressing these sentiments so surely and confidently, I wondered, how could the author of the words sing this with such unwavering steadfastness? How could she – her name was Louisa M. Stead – how could Mrs. Stead say that trusting Jesus is … sweet? As opposed to using words such as “hard”? And, “unnerving”? And, even, a bit frightening?
I think it is easy to say or sing the words – they are beautiful, indeed. And scriptural. In fact, we often turn to such words in Scripture when we are in turmoil:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
so I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
How often have I turned there, for comfort and assurance? And these words, too, found also in the book of Psalms:
Psalm 112:7 (ESV):
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
Saying these words is one thing. Doing them – applying them as verbs to our souls and minds, is quite another. When bad news comes, what does it mean to “take Him at His word”? How do we rest upon His promise — upon the sovereignty that rings through the phrase “thus sayeth the Lord”? How do we cease both sinfulness and self-centeredness? How do we sing to God — and mean it – “Just to know that thou art with me”?
And how do we know that He will be with us, all the way to the end, even into eternity?
It’s hard to live the verbs of these phrases when the bad news comes. It’s hard cling actively to the promises in Scripture when we see our children hurting and making wrong choices. It’s hard to – can I say obey? – the call to trust God, when the diagnosis comes, and our world is spinning.
So I don’t know about you, but I find the words of this beautiful hymn to be challenging.
The author knew those tough times. One sunny afternoon, she, her husband, and their 4-year-old daughter were picnicking off Long Island Sound. They heard a boy calling for help from the water. Mr. Stead tried to rescue him, but they both drowned.
And Louisa Stead found herself alone, a young widow, with a young child to raise. She would need to decide where to turn in the frightening days that lay before her. And it is from that flash-point that these words were born out of her soul.
Later in life, Louisa and her daughter would travel to South Africa as missionaries. According to Kenneth W. Osbeck, author of 101 More Hymn Stories, Part 2, this is the message she sent back to the United States upon arriving in what was then known as Rhodesia, but today is known as Zimbabwe:
In connection with the whole mission there are glorious possibilities, but one cannot, in the face of the peculiar difficulties, help but say, “Who is sufficient for these things?” But with simple confidence and trust we may and do say, “Our sufficiency is of God.”
Simple confidence and trust. Our sufficiency is of God. But where lies the ability to connect these words with the action of trusting God?
Looking over the hymn tonight, and over Scripture, I wonder if it might not lie in the living of these words:
“How I’ve proved Him, o’er and o’er…”
Has He not been faithful? Has He not been steadfast? Has He not seen? And known? And acted?
Is His love not evident, in the very Gospel itself: that He came to earth to be among us, God in flesh, and then became the sacrifice for our salvation; not because of anything we have done to earn that kind of love, but simply because He loves us?
Has He not been our Lord and Savior, our Father, our shepherd, the holy and righteous one who is sovereign in all things?
He has. He is. Oh, how I have proved Him, o’er and o’er, my friends. So many times. With so many to go, I am certain.
But here is where you and I must live our lives every day. It is where we must return to consistently and continually and always. In the joyful times and in the dark times, we must recognize our need for the last line of the chorus of this beautiful hymn:
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
In those moments when we are in need of that grace to not just say that we trust Him, but truly to trust; in those heart-stopping, mind-numbing moments, or those weary-long-day moments; we must turn to Him for that grace, because truly it only comes from Him.
And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.”
…. Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:20-23, 29)
Oh, for grace to trust Him more.
Originally published at All Is Well. Used by permission.