Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Season:  Be Still

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: One sunny, summer day Louisa, her husband, and their four-year-old daughter named Lily packed a picnic lunch and went down to the beach on Long Island, NY, near where they lived, to enjoy a few hours of playing in the sand and the water.

While they were enjoying their little picnic, the Stead family heard a scream. It was from a young boy out in the water who was struggling against the wind and the undertow to get back to shore.

Well, Mr. Stead plunged into the water immediately and swam out to help the boy. He put his arm around the boy and tried to swim back to shore with him, but Louisa and her little girl watched helplessly from the shore as the boy kept struggling and flailing. Eventually both the boy and Mr. Stead were pulled down into the waves and drowned there in the ocean.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, January 9.

You may be familiar with this comforting song. Did you know it was written by a woman who had been through tragedy? Nancy will tell you the story as part of our current series, “Be Still.” Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Well, if you’ve been with us for the past few days here on Revive Our Hearts, you know that we’re giving you a taste of a new CD we’ve produced, a CD of hymns played on the piano. I grew up playing the piano and loving hymns, and it was a great joy over the last several months to produce a CD of piano hymns.

I’ve been so encouraged by some of the early responses we’ve been getting from people who’ve been blessed by this music, by these hymns. You don’t hear many of them very often anymore. For those who don’t know the words, we’ve put the words in the insert in the CD itself.

Somebody was saying after our last session what a blessing it is that so many of these people who wrote these hymns 100 or more years ago wrote out of their devotion for Christ and their walk with Him. They were so glad they wrote these lyrics and that they were set to music. And now, 100 or 200 or more years later we sing some of these great hymns, and our lives are blessed as a result.

It makes you just long and desire that the fruit of our lives in our generation would be such that a 100 years from now, should the Lord tarry, or 200 years or beyond, those next generations will be blessed by our love for Christ. I’m glad for those who are writing modern hymns. You don’t have to be a great poet or a great hymn writer, but you can express out of your heart your devotion to Christ, your love for Him, and share that with the generation coming up to help them in their walk.

Some have been asking if the piano arrangements are available. They will be in early February. The CD is available now, and you can contact us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. If you are prompted by the Lord to give a donation of any size to the ministry this month, our way of saying “thank you” is to send you a copy of this CD called Be Still. Our hope is that it will minister grace and encouragement and blessing. It’s kind of a devotional feel, if you’ve been listening to some of the music. It’s quiet. It’s reflective. It just gives our hearts a chance to be still and to soak in the presence of the Lord.

Now, today I want us to look at another lesser known poet and hymn writer who provided us a gospel song that’s been a great blessing to many.

Her name was Louisa Stead. She was born in 1850 in Dover, England. She trusted Christ at the age of nine. As a teen she felt this sense of calling to become a foreign missionary. When she was twenty-one, she immigrated to the United States. During her years of living here, she attended a revival meeting where once again she felt this strong pull and call of God on her life to be a missionary, so she offered herself up for mission service.

Her desire was to go to China, but she had no-so-good health, and she wasn’t accepted to go.

She married a man whose last name was Stead. I’ve not been able to find his first name. I’m sure it’s somewhere in there, buried in the archives. One sunny, summer day, Louisa and her husband and their four-year-old daughter named Lily packed a picnic lunch and went down to the beach on Long Island, NY, near where they lived, to enjoy a few hours of playing in the sand and the water.

Now, I’ve read varying accounts of exactly what happened next, but the best I can piece it together, while they were enjoying their little picnic, the Stead family heard a scream. It was from a young boy who out in the water who was struggling against the wind and the undertow to get back to shore.

Well, Mr. Stead plunged into the water immediately and swam out to help the boy. He put his arm around the boy and tried to swim back to shore with him, but Louisa and her little girl watched helplessly from the shore as the boy kept struggling and flailing, and eventually both the boy and Mr. Stead were pulled down into the waves and drowned there in the ocean.

Well, heartbroken and now as a widow with a little girl, without her husband, Louisa struggled to provide for herself and her daughter. She told a friend:

I need faith and trust to believe that His Providence is still at work, and that His hand can still guide me through the bleak, unknown future.

Of course, in those life circumstances, and some of you have been there—some of you are there perhaps . . . It makes me think of my mother who was widowed at the age of forty with seven children, ages eight to twenty-one. At that moment the future can seem bleak and unknown. Right? But keep in mind that it’s only unknown to you. It’s not unknown to Him who orchestrates the moments and the circumstances of our lives for His glory and our good.

Well, she said: “I need faith and trust to believe that His Providence is still at work and that His hand can still guide me through this bleak, unknown future.”

One day the pantry was empty, there was nothing to eat, so Louisa led her little girl as they prayed and cried out to the Lord. They told God that He knew their need and that they were trusting in Him, asking Him to provide out of His abundance.

Well, the next morning they got up, and they found a large basket of provisions at the front door, and an envelope that had enough money in it to buy shoes for Lily. Louisa told her little girl: “We trusted God, and He has not failed us.” What a powerful lesson for a little girl to learn early in life: “We trusted God, and He has not failed us.”

Some of you have experienced those amazing moments where you have nowhere else to turn, no other hope, no other help but to turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on You. I’m trusting You. Give me grace to trust You more.” And then you’ve seen God provide, and then that becomes a message to your children and to your grandchildren and your friends around you: “We trusted God, and He has not failed us.”

Well, out of the experience of her tragic loss and seeing God’s hand meet her needs, Louisa was inspired to write this simple bit of poetry:

'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise;

Just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord!’”

“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Now, as you reflect on the words of this gospel song, keep in mind that our trust, our faith, is not in a vacuum. It’s not just fantasy faith: “Oh, I’ll just dream it to be so, and it will be so; or I’ll just speak it to be so, and it will be so.” This is not name it and claim it theology.

Our trust has an Object. It’s not in ourselves; it’s not in our dreams; it’s not in our hopes. Our trust is in a Person. “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Our trust is based on the solid foundation of His Word.

“It’s sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise.” That’s what makes faith valuable and strong. Not that our faith is strong but that the Object of our faith is strong. We’re trusting in Christ; we’re trusting in His Word; we’re trusting in His unfailing promises.

And so she says in the chorus:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O, for grace to trust Him more!

The more you’ve seen Him work and provide, the more you want to trust Him, and the more you want to pray for grace to trust Him even more.

So out of these early experiences as a widow with a little girl, Louisa trusted Jesus for practical, material provision, and He came through. He met her in her financial need in this point where she, in the loss of a mate had no means to provide for herself, she saw Him come through and provide.

But she knew that she could trust Jesus for more than just material provision. She knew that, even more importantly, He could be trusted for her eternal salvation. Because what if you have all of the riches of the world but you die lost and without Jesus? You’re not rich. That’s ultimate poverty. Right? So she knew that she could trust Jesus for her salvation, and so she says in the second stanza:

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood,
Just in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

What are you trusting for your salvation? What are you trusting for forgiveness of your sin against a holy God?

  • Are you trusting religion? 
  • Your church experience? 
  • Yourself? 
  • Your good works? 
  • Your family background? 
  • Some religious experience you had somewhere along the way? 
  • Some decision you made in some emotional meeting somewhere?

Listen, none of these can save you. None of those can forgive one single sin much less a lifetime of sin against a holy God. Nothing and no one other than Jesus and His shed blood is sufficient for your salvation.

And then, having experienced His saving grace, Louisa also found in Jesus sanctifying grace, deliverance from sin and self, and she refers to this in the third stanza:

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest and joy and peace.

“’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” It’s a life of faith. It’s a life of leaning on our Beloved, as the Song of Solomon says. A life not of striving, not of performance, not of human effort.

Some of us just live our lives back at Mt. Sinai where the law was given, and you’ve got to strive and struggle and try to perform to please a God that we can’t please. Or we struggle, and we wrestle, and we grasp, and we try to get life and joy and peace and the fruit of Spirit. “I’m going to have it if it kills me.” (It may!)

But she recognized that this is a life of faith, a life of believing that all I need, all I want, all I long for, all I have to have for this life and the next, ultimately is found in Jesus. He has finished the work. Ours is to look to Him and believe. “’Tis sweet to trust in Jesus. Just from Jesus, simply taking life and rest and joy and peace."

And then we see in the final stanza that Jesus can be trusted, not only in this life, but through all of life and all the way to the finish line into the next life. She says:

“I’m so glad I learned to trust Him.”

By the way, you don’t learn to trust Him unless you have difficult circumstances that put you in a difficult place. Right? If you always had everything you need and you never had any challenges, never had any problems, never had any difficulties, would we learn to trust Jesus? Who would we trust? Ourselves. Right? We’d be self-reliant. We’d be stubborn and proud.

And so she said:

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him.

What she’s really saying is: “Anything that makes me need God is a blessing.” It makes us trust Him.

Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.

What she’d experienced in the past she knew would also be true in the future—whatever that might bring that she couldn’t see at this point.

You see, our need, our distress, our challenges, our problems, our pressures, all of those are opportunities to trust Jesus, to look to the Lord, to discover His promises, to prove His promises, to try Him to see that He really is faithful.

As I said, if we never had to face those extremities, if we never had to trust Him in difficult places where we can’t see the outcome, where would we be? That’s why God loves us enough to create circumstances that bring us to the end of ourselves and make us realize how desperately we need Him.

I often pray that before I go to speak at a conference, “Lord, this week leading up to the conference, would You create circumstances in the lives of the women who are going to be there that would make them realize how much they need You? Make them desperate for You.” Otherwise, we spend the first half of the conference just trying to get people’s attention. Right? So I ask God to “prepare hearts by creating circumstances in their wake that make them desperate for You.”

I think God answers that prayer—and He does it not only for them. He does it for me. In the weeks just leading up to a conference, or just any week, there can be circumstances that make me realize how much I need Him. And not until that happens will I stop walking by sight and begin to walk by faith. “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.”

Well, ten years after her husband died, Louisa remarried, and she and her husband served as missionaries, first in South Africa where he was from, and then later in what was then known as Southern Rhodesia (now it’s Zimbabwe). They served together as missionaries for many years. She actually retired and died in that country.

It’s sweet as I’m thinking about it, the fact that when she was a young woman, a teenager, she felt such a strong call of God to be a missionary—twice. She tried. She got turned down because of her health. Then she married an American, and they settled down in the States.

But God was writing the script. God was orchestrating the pieces of her life. God knew that there would be a season when that longing to be a missionary would be fulfilled in her life. It wasn’t when she thought it would be, but later in life that desire was fulfilled.

Even once she got overseas . . . You think once you get in ministry then it’s smooth sailing from there on, right? No. She had to keep trusting Jesus. She said once she got to the mission field,

One cannot in the face of the peculiar difficulties help saying, "Who is sufficient for these things? I can’t manage this!"

I see Jess over here getting ready to have her third baby. Her oldest is three. The next is two, and she’s expecting here shortly her third. Who is sufficient for these things? Right? And you say, “Oh, the babies. They’re easy. Wait until they get to be teenagers!" Who is sufficient for these things? And then all these people with young adult kids with all their issues. Who is sufficient for these things? Or to be single and faithful to Christ and serving Him. Who is sufficient for these things?

That’s what she experienced when she got to the mission field, Louisa Stead. But she said, “With simple confidence and trust we may and do say, ‘Our sufficiency is of God.’” She was quoting, of course, the apostle Paul, “Our sufficiency is not of ourselves, but it is of God.”

Paul says God allowed these circumstances, these hard things, these harsh things, to come into our lives, these what seemed to be cruel providences at times, God allowed them to come into our lives so our reliance would not be on ourselves but on God who raises the dead, “God who brings to life that which seems to be gone.”

Louisa died in that country now known as Zimbabwe. Her fellow missionaries had always loved this song, “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” that she wrote, and they wrote this tribute after her death. 

We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language.

You see, that hymn written out of such distress and heartache became a means of blessing and joy and life in multiple languages, multiple countries, multiple centuries and generations. That’s the ways of God: Death brings life.

That song that she wrote out of tragedy has ministered to millions around the world and has inspired people like us, in the midst of heartache and loss, to trust in Jesus, which leads me to ask this question: What is your testimony? What’s the testimony God is wanting to write in and through your life?

I see Paula here. Your family has been through some tough things in recent years, and you’ve had to learn to trust Jesus. Right? That could be said of hopefully all of us in this room. In those tough things, God is writing a testimony. He’s writing a song; He’s writing poetry. You may not be able to make it rhyme. I’m not good at writing poetry. But God’s wanting to write hymns out of our lives. What’s your legacy?

Our natural tendency in these hard providences is to trust our feelings, our circumstances, our limited perspective, our human reasoning. When it comes to a lot of the things we go through in life, we would not have written the script that way! Am I right? “I wouldn’t have written it that way if I was God!” Well, thank God we’re not God. And thank God that He is writing the script.

That’s why He says, “Don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways, trust Him, and He will direct your steps” (see Pro. 3:5–6). Take Him at His word, rest upon His promise, even when you can’t see what He is doing, even when you cannot figure out the outcome, even when you feel like trusting put you into free fall. And you say, “We’re all going to die!” Well, you might, but what about after that? “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to rest upon His promises.”

Lean upon His Word because if you die physically, you’ve got a better life coming—an eternity with Christ.

Psalm 9 reminds us: “Those who know Your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (v. 10).

Isaiah said it this way: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation” (12:2).

Let me just take you back for one more moment to that chorus. We see in the chorus to this song both an affirmation and an appeal:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

That’s an affirmation of faith. I’ve seen Him come through. He has met my needs. As she told little Lily, “We trusted God, and He has not failed us.”

That faith grows with use. It grows with experience. I can trust God in a way today I couldn’t trust Him thirty years ago, forty years ago, fifty years because I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. That doesn’t mean I trust Him all the time, but I’ve got a lot more reason to trust Him because He has come through. “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!”

And then in the second part of that chorus, she makes an appeal:

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O, for grace to trust Him more!

 

It’s an appeal for more faith. “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.” Right? “I trust Him, but I need to trust Him more; I need to trust Him more.”

There’s a supernatural element to faith. It’s not just something we can work up or generate on our own. “Okay, I’m just going to trust Jesus.” No. We pray, “Lord, give me grace to trust You more.”

We know we’re supposed to trust God’s promises, that we’re supposed to believe in His constant presence, but sometimes you still find it difficult to trust. Right? I do. Sometimes, especially as women, we can’t just flip that switch in our hearts. “Okay, I trust the Lord with this.”

Sometimes it’s even harder to trust the Lord with others that we have a burden for—children, family members, friends. Sometimes I’ll look at them, and I’m thinking, Get a grip. Just trust the Lord. I can’t do it for them, and they can’t do it for themselves. We need God’s grace to trust, and that’s why we need to acknowledge our need. Ask Him for that grace.

“Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust You more.” Ask Him to give that grace to trust also to your family, friends.

Lord, we need You; give us grace. Lord, we need You. We trust You. We’ve proved You, o’er and o’er again, but we also need more grace. We need more faith. Give us grace to trust You more.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us why we can trust in the Lord no matter what.

Nancy’s been giving us the background of the song “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” In our current series called, “Be Still,” Nancy is showing us the background of seven hymns. She played all these hymns on our new piano CD also called Be Still.

Let’s listen to Nancy playing, “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”

That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss from the CD Be Still. This CD will help you slow down, take time to breathe and still your soul in God’s peace. We’ll send you a copy of the CD when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help keep Revive Our Hearts coming to you each weekday.

Visit ReviveOurHearts.com and look for the CD Be Still, or ask for it when you donate by phone. The number is 1–800–569–5959.

Well, do you know that the Revive Our Hearts theme song was written by someone who greatly struggled with sin? Nancy will tell the story tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.