Last Sunday I happened to see Songs of Praise on television while I was catching up on the ironing. They sang ‘In Christ Alone’, which apparently is the second favourite hymn in the UK, according to a poll taken by them. What an amazing hymn! I heard it afresh. I’ll just quote the first verse here. You will have to look up the others for yourself.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand. (Stuart Townend & Keith Getty 2002)
Only that morning, in church, I’d been with a sister in Christ who was struggling with all these concepts. She was going through a difficult patch, feeling as though she were in a fog, fearful, striving, and lacking peace. A number of well-meaning people had offered her advice. Go to the doctor; see a counsellor; get a light box, because you may have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). None of this is bad advice, and may bring some help.
I tried to gently say, “What you really need is Jesus”, and she said she knew that, but she just wanted Him to have a magic wand and make it all better. Well He hasn’t got a magic wand. He doesn’t need one!
It was through this, and then hearing the hymn, that I began to realise how Paul felt when he wrote to the churches in his letters. So often he would pray for them as he wrote, for example, ‘I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God’ (Ephesians 3:16-19).
The hymn writers must have known this in order to write such a beautiful song. Let’s pray that for ourselves today.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, may we know Your love more and more, so that our lives will be built on the rock that You are, as we trust You and follow Your teaching. Then we will be able to joyfully and confidently sing: ‘In Christ alone my hope is found’. Amen.
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