When I was a busy director, for a local pregnancy support center, my theme song was I Need Thee Every Hour a hymn written in the early 1800 by Annie Sherwood Hawks. This song resonated with my soul as the vision and passion for the ministry rested on me.
I’ve not sung that song for a while. You’d think I would as I’ve traveled through our son’s mental illness and other of life’s trials since then. Yet the song buried itself away in the crevasse of my mind. Until recently.
We often say, as Christians, God will not give us more then what we can handle; however, I think the truth of the matter is God isn’t looking to see how much burden you or I can carry as Jesus himself says, “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30).
Let me say it this way—God, in my humble opinion, does not look from Heaven and say, Oh, yes there, I see Diane . . . I think she can handle this crisis, she’s one strong gal so here take that.
No, I think God is looking to see where we will fix our eyes in the times of testing, trails, and life circumstances that can mercilessly pour upon our world. Who will we call upon? Where will we put our faith? In whom will we trust?
Life, as it is, has a way of taxing us. We find that in the gospel of James when he writes, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” (James 1:2-3).
Life happens. I often wonder what other people do that do not have the Lord in their life. Where do they go to find the strength to carry on through the muck and mire? Total self-reliance has to come into play. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God,” (Psalm 20:7). In other words strength and trust is found in “other” things rather than the Almighty God.
When I step into self-reliance, my inner world scatters into pieces. I often revert to self-reliance before I call out to God . . . I need Thee! Especially when stuff happens, disrupting my organized universe. This week with the arrival of my youngest daughter from Texas, and her health issues, which sent us to the ER twice, her two sick children ages 5 years and baby 9 months, my on-going lung infection, and did I mention her Boxer dog and my four stressed out cats? All this has spun me into a self-reliance mode, needing somehow to manage the chaos, which I can wallow in emotionally and spiritually.
Then out of my pandemonium comes the song, “I need Thee every hour, Most gracious Lord; No tender voice like Thine Can peace afford . . . I need Thee every hour, In joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or Life is vain . . .”
As I researched the history of this song, I found a quote by Annie. She said, “I remember well the morning . . . when in the midst of the daily cares of my home . . . I was so filled with the sense of nearness to the Master that, wondering how one could live without Him either in joy or pain, into my mind, the thought at once taking full possession of me . . . For myself the hymn was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experience at the time it was written . . ..”
Often those who pursue ministry outside or inside the Church might have a mind-set that this is it, “putting faith with good works.” But I have learned that ministry is not about a program or organization set apart to do good for the Lord—ministry is as Anne said, “ . . . when in the midst of the daily care of my home . . .” you know where the rubber meets the road? That is where the good work of Christ can be manifested as we draw from him to help us carry out the tasks of the day and interact with individuals both dear and near and not trusting in self to accomplish what is deemed most valuable, relying on our Savior—I need Thee every hour, Most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.”
In all things it is, “Every hour I need Thee” in the midst of our strewn and stressed out days. And as we lend ourselves to sing God’s presences into our moments, life is calmed by his peace, which only Christ can give. Does that mean I won't have pull-hairing moments? Certainly not. But when I call on my Loving Father, it is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,” that “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7). It’s God’s peace, which comes over us and helps us to get through this hour to the next, while persevering and exercising faith that God will carry and bring us through to the next hour—“No tender voice like Thine Can peace afford . . .”
“I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.”
My goal, this week and others, is to continue to invite God into my overwhelming moments as I minister to family, hopefully in a Christ like manner!