I recently rediscovered a fantastic hymn written by John Newton. Many a time I’ve sung a hymn which was particularly refreshing and looked up the author only to find it was Newton. I think what I love about many of his hymns are that they show God’s grace not on its own, but in the light of human failing. Amazing grace is obviously Newton’s most famous hymn, and the first verse illustrates the point well. In it, grace is not an abstract concept, but a gift to “a wretch like me” who was “lost” and “blind”. This is what makes the grace amazing – the extent to which we don’t deserve it!
The hymn below is similar, but instead of applying grace to wretches it speaks of how the gospel applies strength to the weak. I find it helpful to regularly remind myself of God’s strength in the context of my weakness, rather than as an independent concept. This way my expectations of a Christian life are accurate. I do have God’s strength, the incredible strength that makes anything possible, but I am also living in a weak body, and I should expect a daily tension between the two.
I won’t say anything else about the hymn, just enjoy Newton’s voice echoing down the centuries.
Rejoice, believer, in the Lord
who makes your cause His own;
the hope that’s built upon His work
shall ne’er be overthrown.
Though many foes beset your road
and feeble is your arm,
your life is hid with Christ in God
beyond the reach of harm.
Weak as you are, you shall not faint,
or fainting shall not die.
Jesus, the strength of ev’ry saint,
will aid you from on high.
Though unperceived by mortal sense,
faith sees Him always near.
A guide, a glory, a defence;
then what have you to fear?
As surely as He overcame
and triumphed once for you,
so surely you that love His name
shall in Him triumph too.