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Words: Theodore Monod (b. Nov. 6, 1836; d. Feb. 26, 1921)
Music: St. Jude, by Charles John Vincent, Jr. (b. Sept. 19, 1852; d. Feb. 28, 1934)
Note: This strong and convicting 1874 song sometimes begins, “O the bitter pain and sorrow,” taking that as its title. Sometimes it begins, as on the Cyber Hymnal, “O the bitter shame and sorrow.”
In 1964, Bel Kaufman published her runaway best seller, Up the Down Staircase. A teacher in New York City herself, Kaufman details the first year in the life of an idealistic English teacher named Sylvia Barrett, working in an inner-city high school. The book is both humorous and touching, showing how the students crave acceptance and love, as well as an education.
As Miss Barrett struggles with a blizzard of paperwork and regulations, she tries to build a relationship with her students, slowly learning about the challenges they face, and responding in a caring way. There is a Suggestion Box in the hall, into which one of her pupils puts Anonymous notes through the year, to describe the class’s growing support of her. “We’re behind you 35%….We’re behind you 40%” and so on.
That will do as a picture of our relationship with the Lord. There are those who want nothing to do with Him at all. For others He is a mysterious Being whose existence they acknowledge on Sunday mornings at a church, if there’s nothing more pressing to do. Still others allow Him (or “religion”) to inhabit a compartment of their lives, a small piece of the pie, along with larger slices belonging to family, job, recreation, and more.
But when one becomes a Christian, through faith in Christ, a loving bond is formed. Through an ongoing study of the Word of God, we discover that the Lord wants to be Lord of all our lives, and that He is infinitely worthy of that. That a daily walk of faith and obedience toward Him is His due, as Lord of all, and we will be blessed–enriched, contented and fulfilled by taking that path.
Notice the twin threads of obligation, and awareness of personal need, in that relationship. We honour and serve God because that is His right, first of all. But there is also a growing acknowledgment that He has our best interests at heart, and we can only be truly blessed if we’ll open our lives to Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [because of all He has done for you], that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). “For you were bought at a price [the death of Christ on the cross]; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20).
“He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (II Cor. 5:15). “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
And God’s wonderful blessings don’t stop with the end of this earthly life. His eternal purpose is “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
In fullest surrender to Him there is fullest blessing. That is the thrust of the hymn by Theodore Monod. Monod came from France to America, where he trained for pastoral ministry, and served churches there. His hymn is both startling and convicting. It calls us to examine the depth of our relationship with the Lord Jesus.
CH-1) O the bitter shame and sorrow,
That a time could ever be,
When I let the Saviour’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
“All of self, and none of Thee!”
CH-2) Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursèd tree,
Heard Him pray, “Forgive them, Father!”
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self, and some of Thee!”
From there, the surrender to Him continues to grow, as we learn to trust Him. Often it’s when the Lord meets us in some crisis situation or trial that we learn to rest in His love.
CH-3) Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
“Less of self, and more of Thee!”
CH-4) Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered:
Grant me now my supplication,
“None of self, and all of Thee!”
1) Where would you place yourself in the four stages Monod describes?
2) What life experiences have brought you to this point?