Words: Esther L. Kerr Rusthoi (b. Feb. 21, 1909; d. Apr. 8, 1962)
Music: Esther L. Kerr Rusthoi
Note: Esther Kerr was the sister of musical evangelist Phil Kerr. (Mr. Kerr also wrote Music in Evangelism (Zondervan, 1962), a carefully researched collection of stories about our hymns and gospel songs.) Esther married pastor and evangelist Howard Rusthoi. An accomplished woman, she was an author, poet, composer, singer, and an evangelist herself, and was an associate pastor at the Pentecostal Angeles Temple, of Los Angeles.
She wrote a number of books and hymns (see the Cyber Hymnal link), but this fine 1941 song is her best known. Because she suffered from ill health (dying at the age of 53), there is a special poignancy to its message. I have used this song as a solo from time to time. The refrain can also be used separately, as a meaningful worship chorus.
The Apostle Paul suffered from some unnamed physical malady (II Cor. 12:7). From comments in his letters, some have concluded it may have been a severe eye ailment (cf. Gal. 4:13-15; 6:11). To this daily burden we can add the many tribulations he faced in his ministry (II Cor. 11:23-27). “Besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (vs. 28).
Is it any wonder, then, that he rejoiced in the prospect of being absent from the body and…present with the Lord” (II Cor. 5:8). He saw how important his work was, and how much he could yet do, and he felt torn between the joys of heaven and the needs of earth. “I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). There, the trials of life will be forever behind us. There:
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
“Far better,” to be sure! In the words of Esther Rusthoi, “It will be worth it all” when we finally lay our burdens down, and go to be with the Lord. The encouraging prospect in the hymn, weighing the trials and troubles of today against the boundless and eternal blessings of eternity is one Paul also takes up.
“Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent [our physical body], is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands [a glorified, resurrection body], eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 4:16–5:1).
The song faces the temptation to fret and despair, but it also takes encouragement in an event about which the Word of God says we are to “comfort one another” (I Thess. 4:18). Though she did not live to see it, Mrs. Rusthoi looked forward to the rapture of the church, when Christ will come to “catch His bride away.” Her earlier departure will not mean she will miss the great reunion coming on that day (I Thess. 4:13-18).
1) Oft-times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face All sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
3) Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n–a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.
1) Is there someone who would be encouraged if you shared with him or her the message of this song?
2) What three things about heaven are represented or suggested by “a harp, a home, a crown”?