Eight days before Hans died, in Sunday morning worship at church, we sang the hymn “More Love to Thee” by Elizabeth Prentiss. It is a challenge for me to sing this hymn honestly and I always hesitate when beginning verse three which, in our hymnbook, reads:
Let sorrow do its work,
Send grief and pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers,
Sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me,
More love, O Christ to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!
Understandably, I have never sung these lines with gusto; it just feels too much like lying. Send grief and pain?! Of course, I understand and accept the benefits to be won through trials and affliction. But to ask for it? I am not that brave.
But, I sang it anyway that last Sunday morning with my husband and all three of our sons. (Our daughter was working away from home.) I even sang verse three, but I sang it cautiously, hoping God would send no such thing.
But He did. He sent the sweet messengers of grief and pain and tears and choking sorrow. Heavy, heavy things I can accept from no other hand than that of my Father in Heaven who loves me.
He has given what is best.
So will the blessings to be gained through this present trial give me courage to ask Him to send more grief and more pain? I honestly don’t think so. My whole body tenses up just thinking about it. Is anyone really ever that brave?
I don’t think I will be that brave any time soon. Truthfully, I do not feel like being brave at all today. I confess to wanting the growth and the blessings, without the trials. If More Love means More Pain, I confess to not wanting to sign up for that right now.
Help me, Lord, to be willing to sign up for whatever will bring me closer to you.
Help me, Lord, to be brave.
Elizabeth Prentiss lost two children and wrote “More Love To Thee” while deep in her grief. Below is a poem she wrote and here is a link to her story:
I thought that prattling boys and girls
Would fill this empty room;
That my rich heart would gather flowers
From childhood’s opening bloom:
One child and two green graves are mine,
This is God’s gift to me;
A bleeding, fainting, broken heart,
This is my gift to Thee.”
More Love To Thee
Lyrics: Elizabeth Prentiss, 1818-1878
Music: William Doane, 1832-1915