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Words: Edna Randolph Worrell (b. circa 1873; d. circa 1950)
Music: Clarence B. Strouse (late nineteenth and early twentieth century)
Note: Virtually nothing is known of the author and composer of this bright gospel song, other than their names. The song was published in 1903. At a guess, I’d say that some time in the 1890’s, Miss Edna Randolph became Mrs. Edna Worrell, but I don’t’ know if that’s so.
As I write this article Valentine’s Day is approaching. It’s a day when we recognize and honour human love, particularly romantic “sweetheart” love. Some couples I know have been married for over fifty years. That’s a lot of Valentine’s Days!
But we all know that human love can fail. Sadly, we are all likely acquainted with couples whose marriages have ended in separation or divorce. Perhaps one or the other has proven unfaithful, and love has grown cold. Sometimes the breakup ends with a rancorous conflict in a courtroom.
Given the uncertainty of our love for one another, it’s most reassuring and satisfying to turn our attention to the love of God, especially as it’s revealed in Christ. In all of the areas where we are weak, God is infinitely strong, and this is reflected in His wonderful love. This divine love is spoken of so many times in the Word of God it’s impossible to give more that a few descriptions of its nature.
¤ God’s love is described as a “great love” (Eph. 3:4). Greater than man can measure or comprehend. It surpasses human knowledge, and yet we are encouraged to keep on learning more about it (Eph. 3:14-19).
¤ As to His relationship with Israel, Jeremiah describes God’s love as “everlasting” (Jer. 31:3). A similar New Testament description is given of the limitless extent or eternal nature of the love Christ has for those who belong to Him (Jn. 13:1).
¤ “God so loved the world” (Jn. 3:16). And given His willingness to sacrifice His Son to save us, it suggests that love is suffused with grace. “While we were still [unlovely] sinners” God loved us enough to send Christ to die for us (Rom. 5:8).
¤ “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5:25).
¤ God’s love is not only great in terms of how far down in reaches to save us, but in terms of how high it lifts us. Through Christ, we become children of God, and joint-heirs with His son. (Rom. 8:16-17; I Jn. 3:1).
¤ God’s love is not only national, or world-wide; it’s also personal. We see more of that on this side of the cross. The Lord loves us as individuals (cf. Jn. 11:5; Gal. 2:20).
CH-1) A Friend I have called Jesus, whose love is strong and true,
And never fails howe’er ’tis tried, no matter what I do;
I’ve sinned against this love of His, but when I knelt to pray,
Confessing all my guilt to Him, the sin clouds rolled away.
It’s just like Jesus to roll the clouds away,
It’s just like Jesus to keep me day by day,
It’s just like Jesus all along the way,
It’s just like His great love.
The author’s second and third stanzas deal with the way God’s love shines through our times of trouble, sorrow, and despair. The third stanza particularly is startling in its honesty and clarity. Have you known times “when life seems worse than useless, and I were better dead”? I wonder how many congregations have been able to sing that without a shock. Yet those feelings are more common that some might suppose. We need the compassion of the Saviour to support and encourage those going through such times.
CH-3) When sorrow’s clouds o’ertake me, and break upon my head,
When life seems worse than useless, and I were better dead;
I take my grief to Jesus then, nor do I go in vain,
For heavenly hope He gives that cheers like sunshine after rain.
Mirroring the emphasis of the Bible with regard to the love of God, our hymns and gospel songs make it a frequent subject, giving us the means to sing about it. In its Topical Index, the Cyber Hymnal lists over a hundred hymns on this subject here.
CH-4) O, I could sing forever of Jesus’ love divine,
Of all His care and tenderness for this poor life of mine;
His love is in and over all, and wind and waves obey,
When Jesus whispers “Peace, be still,” and rolls the clouds away.
1) What are some important contrasts between human love and God’s love?
2) What are your favourite hymns about the love of God?