Posted by: rcottrill | March 14, 2019

Does Jesus Care?

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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: Frank Ellsworth Graeff (b. Dec. 19, 1860; d. July 29, 1919)
Music: Joseph Lincoln Hall (b. Nov. 4, 1866; d. Nov. 29, 1930)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (J. Lincoln Hall) (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org

Note: I encourage you to go to the Cyber Hymnal link are read all the stanzas of this wonderful song from 1901. Pastor Graeff deals with the subjects of temptation, and of the sorrow at the loss of a loved one, along with other trials.

The Roaring Twenties lived up to their name. The period following the First World War was marked by giddy excess on the part of many. The blind optimism that the recent devastating conflict was “the war to end all wars” spilled over into wasteful extravagance and moral laxity. If you were to believe some newspapers of the day, a good time was had by all.

Then came the crash. In October of 1929, the Stock Market experienced what came to be known as the Great Crash. Believing stock prices would continue to rise forever, some had speculated recklessly. But soon share prices plummeted and billions of dollars were lost. Investors panicked as the situation grew worse.

This was one factor that led to the Great Depression. The largest and most sustained economic downturn in the industrialized world, it continued for a decade. Consumer spending dropped, companies laid off workers. About a fifth of the work force in America was looking for employment, and could find none. Many were forced to rely on credit, and went deeply into debt. A drought and the infamous Dust Bowl out west affected food production too.

That was a downward spiral into disaster. So what led to a turn-around, and a fairly steady recovery? It’s too simplistic, of course, to credit one single event in a situation that was very complex. But certainly things began to change in America with the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.

A clever politician, he immediately introduced reforms to address the crisis. Further, he initiated a series of thirty “fireside chats” over the radio, stretching through the Depression and into the 1940’s. It was an early and effective use of mass communication. A gifted communicator, the president spoke to citizens with calm assurance, as their friend, telling them what was being done in Washington, and why. People were convinced he really cared.

We can draw a spiritual parallel to what some believers experience in their personal lives. Reading the first couple of chapters of the book of Job, we see a good man hit by a series of disasters, one after another, events for which he was unable to find any rational explanation. Suddenly it seemed the Lord had forgotten him, or even turned against him. But he could think of nothing that could have precipitated the change.

Something similar happened to Frank Graeff. Mr. Graeff was an American clergyman, known for his sunny optimism and his effective ministry to children. But he went through a time of severe testing. Physical pain, depression, and spiritual doubt, all weighed him down. He felt as though he’d been abandoned by God. He says his attitude at the time was characterized by “despair and defeat.”

So, how does a burdened soul deal with such a shattering crash? How does a turn-around begin? Something like the circumstances described earlier, it begins with the help of a wise and compassionate Helper, the Lord Himself. When he hit bottom, Graeff fell to his knees and began to pour out his troubles to God. And it was a hymn and a Bible verse that buoyed his faith and brought refreshing joy and comfort to his heart.

The hymn was one by Joseph Scriven, which says:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

What an encouragement to a struggling servant of God! And the verse of Scripture that meant much to him speaks of…

“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Pet. 5:7).

Twice in the Gospels the Lord Jesus is asked, “Do you not care?” In a storm on the Sea of Galilee the disciples cry, “Do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk. 4:38). And in a home in Bethany, when Christ was their Guest, Martha frantically worked to prepare a meal, while her sister Mary sits at His feet to listen to His teaching. With obvious irritation, Martha complains, “Do You not care that my sister has left me to serve along?” (Lk. 10:40).

And of course He does care, when things like danger (in the first instance) and duty (in the second) seem to overwhelm us. And the Lord hears and answers prayer, either providing a means of deliverance, or the grace to carry us through whatever we face. Out of that assurance, Frank Graeff wrote the gospel song Does Jesus Care? with it’s joyful affirmation in each refrain that indeed He does.

CH-1) Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress
And the way grows weary and long?

Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Saviour cares.

CH-2) Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Questions:
1) What trial or testing are you facing presently?

2) Has the Lord helped you through this time? (What has He used to do this?)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (J. Lincoln Hall) (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal
Hymnary.org


Responses

  1. It has been a while since my last comment. I am compelled by the memories that surround the hymns in today’s blog. “I know He Cares” and “That Beautiful Name” bring sweet recollections. As the “hymn – hiester” in Baptist congregations I enjoyed using both. I appreciate the histories you supplied about them — thanks! Yes, I listened on the family radio to some of FDR’s chats in the late 30s.

    I grieve deeply that such truly significant and beautiful music is lost in today’s worship music. I try very hard to join in the worship-song period at church, but I can not. My aversion to the music form and many times the words stops me cold. So I just talk with the Lord in my heart at those timed. I miss HIS worship in musical expression.

    Thanks for poem by Louisa Alcott is a meaningful and significant addition.

    • Good to hear from you. And I do agree with your concern about churches that cast away our rich treasury of hymns and gospel songs, seemingly without a thought. So far, we’ve been able to hold the line in the church my wife and I attend–because I choose the songs:-), but for how long I”m not sure.

      From notes I’ve received from around the world, I know there are many who grieve the lost of the old songs. But a better day is coming. As Eliza Hewitt put it in one of her songs, “A few more years to sing the song / Of our Redeemer’s love; / Then by His grace both you and I / Shall sing His praise above.”


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