Posted by: rcottrill | June 30, 2017

Yes, He Knows the Way Is Dreary

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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.

Words: Frances Ridley Havergal (b. Dec. 14, 1836; d. June 3, 1879)
Music: Motherhood, by Lewis Meadows White (circa b. August ___, 1860; d. Dec. ___, 1950)

Wordwise Hymns (Frances Havergal)
The Cyber Hymnal (Frances Havergal)

Note: Though she died at the early age of forty-two, Miss Havergal achieved a level of accomplishment worthy of two lifetimes. Frances could read by the age of three, at seven she was already writing poetry. She went on to master French, German, Italian and Latin, as well as Hebrew and Greek, the two main languages of the Bible. She memorized much of the New Testament, along with Psalms, Isaiah, and the Minor Prophets. She was also a composer, a fine singer, and a brilliant pianist, known for her interpretation of Handel, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven.

In a 1983 article appearing in Time Magazine, cardiologist Robert Elliot coined a now famous phrase about dealing with stress: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It sounds goo, though one might argue that small stuff to one person could be a major worry and frustration to others, but still, it’s likely we know what he means.

We realize Elliot wasn’t minimizing a crippling injury, agonizing pain, cruel violence, or a horrific natural disaster. It has more to do with the mundane irritations of every day. Poet Annie Johnson Flint gave us this description that fits the case:

The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.

That says it well!

Which is more powerful: the sun, or a cloud? Our mighty sun is actually our nearest star. And every second it produces the same energy as about a trillion one megaton atomic bombs. That is power! And yet a fleeting and amorphous patch of water vapour can blot out the sun, turning a bright, cheery day gray and dismal. In a similar way, the small stuff of our days can steal away our contentment and a zest for life.

Is that how you’re feeling? When you look back, what do you see? Mistakes? Missed opportunities? Or perhaps good days you wish you could return to? When you look within, what’s your assessment of yourself? Someone weak and overburdened? Someone who seems to have lost the way? What about when you look around? Do you compare yourself with others, and find the comparison not too encouraging?

There’s one other direction to consider: what about looking up? David said, “My voice You [Lord] shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up” (Ps. 5:3). When we look up, we find One who understands our needs, and invites us to ask for the mercy and grace we need to deal with daily struggles.

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

In November of 1865, English hymn writer Frances Havergal received a letter from one of her nieces who was in boarding school. It presented a long litany of complaints from a young woman down on herself and her circumstances. She was tired, she was weary with school work, she was lonely, and so on. To crown it all, she couldn’t get permission to go home for her brother’s birthday.

In response, her aunt wrote a hymn and sent it to her. Many of Frances Havergal’s hymns are found in our hymn books: Lord, Speak to Me; Take My Life and Let It Be; Like a River Glorious; Who Is on the Lord’s Side? and more. But the one we’re considering here is not well known. It reads like a beautiful expansion of the exhortation found in Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”

1) Yes, He knows the way is dreary,
Knows the weakness of our frame,
Knows that hand and heart are weary,
He in all points felt the same.
He is near to help and bless;
Be not weary, onward press.

3) Look to Him, the Lord of Glory,
Tasting death to win thy life;
Gazing on that wondrous story,
Canst thou falter in the strife?
Is it not new life to know
That the Lord hath loved thee so?

4) Look to Him, and faith shall brighten,
Hope shall soar, and love shall burn,
Peace once more thy heart shall lighten;
Rise, He calleth thee: return!
Be not weary on thy way;
Jesus is thy strength and stay.

1) What are some of the “squeaky wheels that grate upon [your] joy” today?

2) What will you do to restore contentment and peace in your life?

Wordwise Hymns (Frances Havergal)
The Cyber Hymnal (Frances Havergal)


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