A Hymn for these Hard Days

I grew up singing hymns at church. Out of a hymnal, accompanied by a piano and organ. It was as traditional as you could get, even 35 years ago.

I’d stand in the congregation with my youth group girlfriends and we’d harmonize together. I mostly sang soprano, but occasionally, the hymnal in my hand helped me pick out the next note in the alto part.

Back then, my favorite hymns were the upbeat ones like “Blessed Assurance,” “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” and “Wonderful Grace of Jesus.” I liked a few slower ones—“Great is Thy Faithfulness” readily comes to mind—but only if they had a chorus (or “refrain,” if you prefer.)

I’m sure we sang Frederick M. Lehman’s hymn “The Love of God” at my childhood church, but I’m guessing I didn’t care for it much. It has a chorus, but it seemed heavy and plodding—not the sort of music my teenage self particularly enjoyed.

Decades later, we sang “The Love of God” when the late Jerry Bridges came to my current church for a conference. I remember this clearly, even though it was several years ago, because this was the first time I had ever really paid attention to the lyrics.

Honestly, I don’t know how I overlooked this song all this time—the truth and images in Lehman’s words are as beautiful as they are profound.

We sang it again a few Sundays ago, and I was struck again by the prophetic tone of a song that was written 100 years ago. That, and the writing metaphors—if there was ever a hymn that would appeal specifically to a Christian writer, this would have to be it.

Since then, though, my family has entered an intense and difficult season. And as I visit my seriously injured mom in the hospital and lay awake at night wondering what the future holds for her, it’s the actual subject matter of this old hymn that comforts my heart.

No matter what happens—and none of the possibilities are very encouraging at this point—I’m resting in the reality of God’s perfect love: the love of a Father who knows each of His children by name and is with us in the fire and the flood, on the mountaintop and in the valley, for now and for all eternity.

The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled, and pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away, and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall, when men who hear refuse to pray, on rocks and hills and mountains call, God’s love so sure, shall still endure, all measureless and strong; redeeming grace to Adam’s race—the saints’ and angels’ song.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song.

—Frederick M. Lehman

No matter what happens, I’m resting in the reality of God’s perfect love. Click To Tweet

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Katie Reid and the RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community and Grace & Truth.

28 Responses to A Hymn for these Hard Days

  1. I love when God gives us just the words we need. He is indeed with you and going before you, so rest in that.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful and encouraging post! It’s really amazing to know that we can rest in His perfect love even in the midst of those hard days. I pray healing over your mom.

  3. Heather says:

    Thanks for the reminder of this beautiful hymn… and God bless as you take the words to heart being reminded of how very much God loves you and your mama in this hard place. ♥

  4. Ruth Cowles says:

    I have always loved this hymn. The love of God carries us through the hardest of times and the best of times, doesn’t it?
    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Please give her my love and let me know if there might be an appropriate time to visit.
    Blessings and prayers for you all.

  5. For almost two years I watched my healthy, vibrant mom change after an accident that kept her housebound. Praying you feel God’s presence in a variety of ways, including music. ((Hugs)).

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Debbie. I’m so sorry for what you went through with your mom … these are definitely not things that we ever plan on happening to our loved ones, are they? Hugs back! 🙂

  6. Lisa notes says:

    I grew up singing these same hymns, Lois. My church at that time was all-instrumental, so I haven’t heard The Love of God with such beautiful music behind it. I am an alto so I’ve always been amazed at those who could sing soprano. 🙂 Praying for these times with your mom. I know they’re sad but also rich.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Lisa. It’s such a comfort to hear from others who have been down a similar path. As far as singing goes, I was always more of a second soprano, and lately, even lower than that. The hard part for me has always been picking out the harmonies … so I admire those like who you can do that! 🙂

  7. Lois, in my church service we still sings hymns with the organ every week. I hadn’t heard this one before, and I’m glad you shared it here. Praying for you in your time of trial.

  8. Debby says:

    I’m like you on this Lois. Though I’m a bit older (or probably a lot 😉 I bristled with all the “old” songs wanting to get with the modern sounds being introduced. Now, I’m thankful for the words to those old hymns that carried richly woven theology of God’s grace and love. Those are the words that comfort me today too. Sorry to hear of the anguish for your family with your mom. May God be near each of you, strengthening you with his peace.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Debby, I love how you describe the old hymns as carrying the “richly woven theology of God’s grace and love.” That’s exactly right! Thank you so much for your comforting words. 🙂

  9. Dear Lois, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. I’m glad that you are at her side, and more so that you feel the strength of God at yours. It’s so easy to under estimate His power in light of devastating circumstances, but your words remind me today of His power and might. Blessings dear friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you so much, Tiffany. I have felt God’s strength, and most definitely His peace. I don’t know how people walk through tough times like this without these gifts. Hugs, friend!

  10. Hi Lois,
    My thoughts are with you as you walk through these recent challenging circumstances. The words in some of those old hymns are pure poetry and speak volumes when we stop to read them and let them speak to our hearts! xo

  11. dawn says:

    What a beautiful hymn. I love the lyrics. There’s so much encouragement in those words. Thank you for sharing. Visiting from #coffeeforyourheart today.

  12. I attended a church that worshiped via hymns too. I am not sure I remember this song either from my teenage years. But, what a powerful song now. Full of hope and of truth and comfort. My friend, I’m praying for you and your family.

  13. Gayl says:

    “The Love of God” is one of my favorites along with others you mentioned like “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” What a beautiful rendition of this song you shared! I’m sorry about your mom. I pray that God will grant strength and healing and peace. And, yes, whatever happens He still loves us and is with us.

    May God bless! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.

  14. Yes, this is a good one! Thanks for taking time to open the hymnal with us today! A hymn is a little sermon we can carry around in our hearts.

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