Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

 Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!  Louisa M. R. Stead

Last week I went through the process of having my first full body radioactive scan since having my cancerous thyroid removed a year and a half ago.  As with any test procedure looking for signs of the dreaded “c” it can be stressful.  Any accompanying fear and anxiety are acerbated by the infernal, seemingly interminable wait for the results.

It’s been said that war is hell and doubtless waiting for test results is at the very least akin to purgatory.  Such waiting could be likened to walking a gauntlet of faith with the fires of doubt and fear, fueled by rampant negative scenarios, licking at your heels.

This time around, in the midst of my wrestlings of soul the Lord brought to mind the title of the old hymn “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”  As only God can do those simple words ministered faith to me and restored my peace and sanity.  Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!  How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!  Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Life’s journeys have a way of bringing all of us to an occasional bitter pool.  Invariably we stumble upon bitter experiences when we least expect it and they can have a way of rocking us and our faith to the very core.  Disease, major disappointments and losses have that effect upon us.  At a time when we thirst for sweet water to refresh our weary souls, it seems like all we have to draw from is bitter.

Ironically that is exactly what happened to the Israelites immediately after their miraculous deliverance from the Egyptians when they passed through the Red Sea on dry ground.  Three days of wandering in the desert brought them to the bitter waters of Marah.  Famished by thirst they all grumbled “What are we to drink?” (Exodus 15:23)

But God allowed this to teach them and us a foundational truth about dealing with the bitter experiences of life.  “Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”  (Exodus 15:25)  That “piece of wood” is an Old Testament foreshadowing of the Messiah who was to come and the wooden cross upon which He would be destined to die.  That cross, representing Christ’s great covenant sacrifice for sin and our salvation, would have the power to heal and make every bitter thing sweet.

Sometimes when we are standing at a bitter pool and crying out to God as Moses did, it seems like the transforming power of the cross is nowhere to be found.  In fact no matter how diligently we ask, seek and knock, the bread we so desperately want is still a rock and the fish we are believing for still feels like a slimy snake.  But Jesus assures us that the heavenly Father will give us what we long for if we persist. And indeed, when we hold a stone long enough, it will eventually turn into bread, and that scary squirmy snake will turn out to really be a fish.  (Matthew 7:7-11)

From personal experience I’ve found that to be true.  Yesterday after five days of holding a snake, by faith it became a fish and I finally got my test results back with a clean bill of health.  All praise and glory to God!

One of the great mysteries of God is the way in which He uses the bitter experiences of life to bring sweetness to our soul.  And it is likewise awe inspiring to observe how God can take something born of tragedy and nurture it into becoming a life sustaining blessing.

This year marks the 130 year anniversary of the writing of the great hymn “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”  Just imagine the impact these hope-filled lyrics have had as a lifeline in troubled times to countless individuals and gatherings spanning three centuries.

The story behind this hymn has been well documented.  Louisa M. R. Stead found great comfort in penning these words in 1882 as she was coping with her grief over the tragic death of her husband.  She had the misfortune of watching helplessly from shore with her young daughter as her husband perished with a drowning child he was seeking to save.  What could be more bitter, than losing a loved one in the prime of life, in a seemingly senseless tragedy, in what could have and should have had a happy ending?

And yet, God, in His infinite wisdom turned Louisa’s bitterness of soul into a sweet trust in Jesus that led to the writing of her hymn.  And amazingly the hymn has far outlived Louisa, ministering to each succeeding generation that same sweet trust to all those who sing it from the depths of their own bitterness of soul.

Four years ago when I sat at my father’s bedside as he passed peacefully from this life to the next I was overwhelmed by the savor of resurrection power and sweetness of Spirit in the room.  I had just recited the Twenty-Third Psalm concluding with the immortal words “and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  As I marveled that the sting and bitterness of death were strangely absent, I suddenly sensed the palpable presence of Jesus.  That experience left an imprint of eternity upon my soul and I will never again sing Louisa’s words without feeling their transcendent power to make every bitter thing sweet.

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus . . .  I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.”

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2 thoughts on “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”

  1. Terrific news about your clean bill of health. Praise the Lord, indeed! This is such a poignant entry to have read as this is a week in which I am praying and fasting as I seek the Lord about future plans and directions. It is such a difficult thing to receive the grace to trust in the mighty hand of God and see how He directs our path and continually shows His faithfulness in our lives. It is a daily struggle to remind myself to praise the Lord for His goodness and not dwell on fear, worry or negativity. So often I’d like to drop the stone and lat the snake wiggle out of my grasp because of my impatience. After reading your blog I looked up Louisa’s song to listen as I started my time of prayer today. Thanks for sharing your faith walk. It always encourages me!

  2. Thank you for your feedback and encouraging words. It has been said that persistance is a mark of the young but patience comes with age. The writer of the Hebrews tells us that it is through faith AND PATIENCE that we inherit the promises of God. Sometimes patience like success is a result of just holding on, lasting and not letting go. Praying that your stone will soon manifest itself as what it really is . . . the bread of life.

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