Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)
TITLE: O for Grace
By Sheri Gordon
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Just to rest upon His promise, and to know, “Thus saith the Lord."
I close my eyes and drink in the words and melody of the hymn I learned as a child. As I cease singing, I imagine my grandmother’s wavering voice joining in the second stanza; O how sweet to trust in Jesus, just to trust His cleansing blood… At that line, Grandma would always wrinkle her nose. She believed with all her heart in the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, she just didn’t like to talk—or sing—about it.
“Why do we have to talk about the blood,” she’d ask, “that’s just icky.” I smile at the memory. Oh, how I miss Grandma.
The music director stops playing the piano and lets the voices of five hundred saints permeate the sanctuary. …Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er...
“Oh, yes. Isn’t it so sweet to trust in Jesus and his promises?” A chorus of “Amens” accompanied by head nods fills the sun-drenched church as the pastor motions for us to take our seats in the forest green-padded pews.
On the large projection screen up front, a video begins playing about the devastating consequences AIDS continues to wreak in Uganda. As I watch starving orphaned children swatting flies from their lifeless eyes, I find myself questioning the words of the 100-year old hymn. Yes, trusting Jesus is sweet…but what about this, Lord? Where is Jesus in this? What, exactly, are these babies supposed to trust in? This isn’t sweet, Lord, this is horrific. If sweet is good, then this is terribly bitter…so horribly, brutally bitter.
Even as I ask the questions—the same questions I’ve asked God thousands of times before—I already know the answer. Opening my leather-bound burgundy Bible, I turn to one of many dog-eared pages in the New Testament.
Finding the yellow-highlighted passage, I read Jesus’ words: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) (italics mine) Following and trusting Jesus does not mean life will be sweet. It does not mean there will be no problems…no catastrophic events…no tragedies.
Trusting Jesus and taking him at his word, as the hymn says, means you and I, and the children in Uganda, will have troubles, hardships, and heartaches. Count on it. Innocent babies will suffer. People will die in wars. Young and old will be afflicted with disease. And the injustices of this fallen world will prevail…for a time.
But read carefully all of what Jesus said; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (italics mine) Through that beautiful, flowing, cleansing blood of Jesus Christ…we win!
There will come a day of no more suffering, no more wars, no more disease…and no more babies swatting flies from their weeping eyes. Until that glorious day comes, Jesus is walking with you, with me, and with those abandoned children, every step of the way.
“Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!”
“‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” written by Louisa M.R. Stead, 1882
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