So I have had the hymn ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus’ play over and over in my head in the past few weeks. Whilst searching for different versions of the hymn on Youtube, I stumbled on the story that inspired the hymn. I must say it is one of those stories that reminds me of the sovereignty of God in all of life’s situations.
So the story goes that on a beautiful sunny day in 1882, Louisa Stead, her husband and daughter, Lily, where enjoying a family picnic when they heard the sound of a boy in distress who seemed to be drowning in a river nearby. Mr Stead quickly ran towards the distress call with the hope of rescuing the boy. Unfortunately, Mr Stead could not rescue boy and they both drowned in the river while Louisa and Lilly watched from the shore. With the breadwinner of the family gone, it became hard for Louise to provide for her daughter to the extent that they could barely afford a meal a day. On the day when they were down to their last penny, with no hope of where and how their next meal was going to come, Louisa, heard a knock on her door. She opened the door only to find food and some basic necessitates left in front of her door. That night she did two things: she cooked a warm meal for her daughter to eat and then, she wrote down the lyrics to the hymn we now sing today.
Louisa’s story brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t imagine the depth of pain, sadness, loneliness and confusion that the unexpected death of her husband could have caused her. I am sure she must have had those ‘why me?’ interludes or moments as she desperately tried to find a rational answer to the calamity and despair that befell her family right in front of her eyes. For instance, how could a beautiful family picnic result in the death of her husband, father to their daughter and breadwinner of their family? How does one gain the strengthen and courage to go on when life deals you a bad hand? But most important, how do we, as Christians, remain focused on God by trusting and believing that He will never forsake us through the different seasons of life?
While this story made me have a deep appreciation for the hymn itself on one hand, it also reminded me of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8 which talks about some key life seasons including: birth and death, planting and harvesting , killing and healing, weeping and laughing, embracing and restraining, gaining and losing, loving and hating, speaking and listening e.t.c. I want to believe that we were given this list to enable us better understand that life is filled with ups, downs, highs and lows. But through it all, Gods ways are good and His promises are ever sure.
I also believe Louisa found a way to navigate this difficult season of her life by her constant trust in God and in the way she saw God come through for her even when hope seemed lost. Little wonder the last line of the chorus was more of a prayer as she hoped for grace to trust Jesus more. I feel this hymn ought to serve as a constant reminder for Christians to continuously trust in the word and promises of God in every season of life we find ourselves in. Just as the Psalmist was resolute about God being his glory and help, I pray we find the strength to do the same:
“My help and glory are in God. So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be” (Psalm 62: 7-8, Msg)
Since we already have assurance that God is our everlasting rock, strength and salvation, let us endeavour to choose trust over fear. Let us also be confident of God’s faithfulness and His word which is ever sure. But should our minds begin to swim in the valley of fear due to uncertainty or doubt, I pray for God’s grace to steer us back into His word where we can once again renew our trust in Him.
In the meantime, I leave you with the link to the hymn ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus’.