Where do I begin? This month’s Pastor’s Article is loaded with plenty of deep concerns mixed together with a lot of sighed prayers when Karen was ill following the service on Pentecost Sunday and we took her to the Emergency Room at the White River Medical Center in Batesville and were then given the diagnosis of a brain tumor. As I write this article she is undergoing tests at the UAMS Hospital in Little Rock to find the source of the tumor. We appreciate all the prayers, concern and support you have expressed. We do not know were the Lord is leading us through this, but we do know His strength is here for us. This article is going to conclude with a hymn that has been a real source of comfort during difficult times in my life. I came to really appreciate this hymn for the first time when I had to learn to play it on the organ for the very first worship service I ever played the organ, and it was for a chapel service at Concordia College, Milwaukee. I am deeply indebted to my organ teacher, Professor James Engel of the Wisconsin Synod, for working with me on this hymn to prepare me for that chapel service.
After doing a little research on this hymn I discovered both the words and music were written by Georg Neumark in 1640 when he was just nineteen years old. After a period of trouble and anxiety on a journey to Northern Germany and after vainly seeking employment, he received an unexpected appointment as a tutor in the home of Stephan Henning, a judge in Kiel. He writes in his memoirs, “This good fortune, which came so suddenly and, as it were, from heaven, gladdened my heart so that I, on the first day, to the glory of my God, composed the well-known hymn, “If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee,” for I had ample reason to thank God heartily for this unexpected grace, both then and to the end.” The northern Germany city of Kiel was one the ports we were going to on the vacation Karen and I would have taken. Now a word of comfort and strength comes to us from Kiel in the words of a young Christian musician who there realized and confessed in words and music that the Lord Jesus is our Rock in good times and bad times.
750 If Thou But Trust in God to Guide Thee
Text (sts. 1-7) and Music: Public domain. Created by Lutheran Service Builder © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
1 If thou but trust in God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.
2 What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press
The heavier for our bitterness.
3 Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.
4 God knows full well when times of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.
5 Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And sets a bound to ev’rything.
6 All are alike before the Highest;
’Tis easy for our God, we know,
To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low.
True wonders still by Him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.
7 Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word; though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.