Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus - Hymns 4 Him - Part 7
Today I would like to talk to you about the hymn, “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus.” This is a hymn that I played often when we were sheltering in place during the Covid crisis. Many Christians over the last century have discovered the calm presence of the Lord in their lives during troubled times. And no wonder, when you know the history of the song.
“Tis So Sweet” was written by Louisa Steed during a traumatic and sad time in her life. The year was 1879. The place? Right here in Ohio! Louisa Stead and her husband and their 4-year old daughter, Lily, decided to go on a vacation on Long Island Beach. As they were picnicking on the beach they heard the cries of a drowning boy in the sea. Without hesitation, Mr. Stead rushed into the ocean to save the drowning boy. Sadly, both the little boy and Louisa’s husband drowned that day leaving Louisa a widow and a single mom to raise little Lily.
When Louisa returned to Ohio, naturally she struggled with “Why?” Why Jesus? Why did you allow my husband to drown? Why didn’t you reward his heroism? Why did you leave me destitute? There’s not a one of us that wouldn’t be asking these same questions. We all can understand this struggle with our faith. What would you have done? Here’s what Louisa did. She sat down and wrote the lyrics to “Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus.”
Sing Verse 1 and Chorus.
#1 - Do I trust the ___PROMISES___ of Jesus?
This is the key question we are asking this morning. Do I really trust Jesus? Oh it’s one thing to say I trust him when everything is going great. But what about those down times? Those sad times? Those trying times? When things don’t turn out the way we would have wanted?
The first thing Louisa wrote out was “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Just to take him at His word, just to rest upon His promise.” Do we really trust in Jesus? Do we take Him at His word? Do we know His word? Do we know His promises?
Here are 3 promises that are just as promised in the terrible times as in the terrific times:
…(1) LIFE. “The thief comes only to steal and ill and destroy; I came so that they would have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Most of the tough times in life come for the very reason that Satan and sin has entered the world - “the thief” in Jesus’ promise. When we are going through those times we can rest assured that it is not because of Jesus. Jesus wants us to live a full life… and abundant life. In fact, He says that is the very reason that He came into the world!
…(2) ACCEPTANCE. “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” John 6:37.When we are in the midst of devastation, it can seem like Jesus has forsaken us. Maybe even like He has driven us away from His Presence by causing the devastation in our lives. Again - this is Satan’s lie. Jesus’ promise is that He will never drive us away. Seven different times in Scripture we read about God loving us and never forsaking us. We are just as accepted by Jesus in the bad times as in the good. Also - when we feel forsaken - Jesus has his human side to Him. He can remember what it was like to feel forsaken. Know that our feelings can betray us. Jesus promised that we will always be accepted and never driven away!
…(3) REWARD. “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or [close family] or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much.” Mark 10:29-30. Sometimes our lives seem like we are always losing. Losing our wealth. Losing our health. Losing our loved ones. Satan would tell us the lie that others, who are not following Jesus, are doing so much better. They are winning more, losing less. But Jesus promises rewards far better than anything we have ever lost.
Knowing and accepting these promises (and many more) are made easier to us, when we have practiced the Christian disciplines of daily times in God’s Word and prayer. Then at least when trial and temptation come, we have something to fall back on.
(1) ‘I know right now it seems like life is over. But Jesus has promised me abundant life.’
(2) ‘I know right now it feel likes I am cast away from Jesus love and care. But Jesus has promised me that He will never drive me away.’
(3) ‘I know right now it seems like I have lost everything. But Jesus promises me that I will receive 100x whatever I have lost.’
Sing Verse 2 and Chorus.
#2 - Do I trust the ___HEALING___ of Jesus?
“[Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24
Peter is telling us that this was the whole point of Jesus coming to Planet Earth - that we might be healed. He certainly demonstrated this enough. The Gospels tell us of 26 different times that Jesus performed a healing miracle. These are just the ones recorded. Surely there were others. The two blind men. The demoniacs at Godard. The woman with the issue of blood. The epileptic boy. The man born blind. The man with the withered hand. The man at Bethesda pool. The man with leprosy. Peter’s mother-in-law. Malchus ear cut off by the sword. When you’re reading the gospels, it’s almost like every other chapter is another story of Jesus healing someone.
Here is the question we have to ask ourselves today? Was that only for then and not for now? Did Jesus demonstrate his healing powers 2000 years ago just so that they would trust in Jesus? Or does Jesus want us to trust in His healing powers still to this day?
I say to you that Jesus still heals today! And not only physical healing. Perhaps even more important is the spiritual and emotional healing we need from a world that has gone so desperately wrong. This is why later Peter writes that Jesus bore our sins on the cross so that we could be healed. Remember he writes about us dying to our sins and living to Jesus’ righteousness. There is a healing of our souls even more critical than the healing of our bodies.
Sing Verse 3 and Chorus.
#3 - Do I trust the ___PEACE___ of Jesus?
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Isn’t it interesting that in the middle of Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples, that he tells them that He is leaving them peace? Surely the next day brought the greatest battle ever fought between good and evil and the horrible, tortuous death of their Lord and leader. They would be scattered. They would be frightened. It would seem to them that their world was over. Yet Jesus says, “Peace I leave you.” Then He repeats himself, “My peace I give you.”
He tells them 3 more things about peace in this one verse. When Louisa wrote the lyrics to verse 3, “Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace,” I think these 3 things Jesus talks about was what she was writing about. How she could trust Jesus for peace…
…(1) “I do not give to you as the world gives.” That has to make us ask, “How does the world give peace?” It seems to me that a lot of the time when the world says something is “peace,” it doesn’t feel very peaceful.
Consider a peace agreement at the end of a war. Usually one side is surrendering to the other. No matter what, both sides are picking up the pieces of a broken world.
How about the “peace” that comes at the end of a broken relationship, like a divorce decree. Even if you got everything you wanted, you wouldn’t feel very peaceful.
That’s not how Jesus give us peace. He doesn’t name something peace that makes us feel all torn up inside. Instead we find our insides at peace, even sometimes when we are in the midst of terrible conflict outside. When it comes to peace, labels don’t matter as much as the author of the peace. And there’s no better author of peace than Jesus!
…(2) “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” With Jesus’ kind of peace, we have control over whether or not our hearts will be troubled. Even when we are in the midst of conflict and trouble on the outside, our insides CAN BE peaceful, if we will accept the kind of peace that Jesus offers. The peace that comes from knowing that Jesus is in control. The peace that comes from knowing that even if this is the end of my life here and now, it’s not the end of my life. The peace that comes from knowing that there is more to real peace on the inside with Jesus that the false peace that the world wants to offer me.
…(3) “Do not be afraid.” Fear is one of those emotions that takes on a life of its own. Fear leads to more fear. When I’m afraid it is because I am not in control and I fear the worst possible outcome. Jesus tells them about his peace that also gives them back their control. They can choose to “not be afraid.”
Our response to fear is always a choice, even when the fear itself seems to come automatically. With Jesus we can choose to “not be afraid” - to not allow fear to win out. Jesus names this peace - to allow trust in Jesus to overcome our fear. This is the peace that Jesus leaves us, that Jesus gives us. Have your received it?
Sing Verse 4 and Chorus.
#4 - Do I trust the ___FRIENDSHIP___ of Jesus?
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Jesus tells his disciples… and I believe this goes for all of us who claim to be His followers… that we are more than just followers, more than servants… that we are his friends. We are friends with Jesus. What a profound relationship - that we can be friends with the very Son of God!
It is at this very point of trusting in our “friendship” relationship with Jesus that Louisa Stead includes something equally profound in her lyrics. “I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend.” Like any other friendship, friendship with Jesus is learned.
You might disagree with me. You might think of those friendships that are your closest and say you didn’t have to learn anything. You didn’t have to study. You didn’t have to read books. You didn’t have to memorize facts. You just became friends with the people you liked and with whom you hung out. That it just happened. Over time. Over frequent gatherings. Over lunches and breakfasts. Over shared lives and experiences. Over common interests.
But isn’t that all learning? Every time you hang out? Every time you share experiences together. Don’t you learn about what your friend likes and doesn’t like. That’s what trusting friendship involves. Not a formal learning like in a classroom. But learning like I’m getting to know you! The exact same thing is true about your relationship with Jesus! Louisa had to learn to trust Jesus to be a friend… and so do we.
Conclusion. The story of Louisa Stead and this “Tis So Sweet” hymn is fascinating, not just for how it got started, but for the rest of the story too.
You see, Louisa and her daughter Lilly, didn’t wait around in Ohio after her husband’s death. Louisa decided to go to Cape Colony, South Africa to serve as a missionary. And while most would have said, “You can’t do that! You have a 4-year-old daughter.” Louisa saw this as just another opportunity to trust Jesus - in His promises, in His healing, in His peace, AND in His friendship.
In South Africa she met her next husband, Robert Wodehouse, a native of South Africa. Together they raised Lilly. When ill health forced Louisa to retire in 1911, Lily continued on as a missionary for many years in South Rhodesia. In 1917, Louisa passed away - in Africa. Following her death it was recorded that Christians in South Rhodesia continued to sing her hymn in the local Shona language.
Louisa learned to trust Jesus. How about you?