The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
God sings. He will sing over you. And when he does, “he will quiet you with his love.”
This informs us of a wonderful reality. That is, one of the ways the Spirit ministers hope and grace to us is through songs that are rich with biblical truth and imagery. This, of course, does not require that every lyric be a direct quotation from Scripture. But many times the songs which become a grace to us are rich with poetic reflections of divine truth. As we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we will teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, by “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).
One of my personal favorites (and of many Christians) is the Scandinavian hymn, Day by Day. One reason this hymn brings grace in times of sorrow is that loss is the context in which it was born. Its words were penned in the birth pangs of suffering. It was written by a young Swedish woman who learned the all-important lesson of living each day with the conscious presence and strength of her Lord. Karolina Sandell, the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden,” was known for her many contributions to gospel hymnody. “Though frail in body, she had a strong spirit.” [Then Sings My Soul, p. 155] From her pen flowed approximately 650 hymns that strongly influenced waves of revival, which swept the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
At the age of twenty-six, Lina had an experience that changed her life. She was accompanying her father aboard a ship to Gothenburg, Sweden, across Lake Vattern. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina’s father, a Lutheran minister, fell overboard and drowned before her eyes. “Returning home alone,” Robert Morgan explains, “Lina began processing her grief through the Scriptures and expressing her faith in poetry.” Although Lina had written many hymn texts prior to this tragic experience, now, more than ever, poetic lines expressing childlike trust in God flowed freely from her broken heart. Later, she wrote these comforting words:
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
Day by day the Lord is faithful. Day by day the Lord is near. Day by day he gives grace for every trial. Day by day he is working all things together for your good. Day by day you can trust him. He sings over you. Let him quiet you with his love.
[This meditation is taken from my new 50-day devotional, A Small Book for the Hurting Heart: Meditations on Loss, Grief, and Healing.]