This story has stayed with me long after Christmas.
How is it that a man can pen such words after such tragedy?
There is only one possible answer. It had to have been the grace of God.
At a time when 70% of American Christians think they are going to heaven based on their good works, the reason this song exists is the same as the reason anyone goes to heaven. It is the grace of God.
And I must ask those Christians who think their good works will give them a ticket into the presence of God:
Are you going to believe in something that is not found in the Bible?
Just what are these good works that are so good that Jesus’ great deed is not necessary?
The most basic of Christian beliefs is that we are saved by grace. Here is only one of many verses that I could share:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
The question arises, “Why do so many Christians think they are going to heaven based on their good works?”
My guess is that the reason is found in the latest studies. They tell us that fewer people know what the Bible says.
Why are more people Biblically illiterate?
I don’t have the answer to that one.
Is it because they don’t think it is God’s Word?
Is it because they don’t care what God thinks?
Is it because they are comfortable in a belief system which they have created?
There are many other possibilities.
What I do know is that this great hymn, and the story behind it, illustrates the power of God through the grace of God.
How else it is possible for a man to write such words at such a time.
Good works naturally follow an understanding of God’s grace. When a man understands his condition, and the love that God has shown, how can he not want to do well?
We know that “doing well” is never enough and that we falter at “doing well” at times; many times.
It is God’s grace and mercy that triumphs over those times.
If you don’t know the words of the great poet who wrote this hymn, or the story behind it, you may want to read something posted here back in December. You can get there by simply clicking here.
May God give us the grace to pick up His Word and make it a part of our daily lives.
I read Part I shortly after you posted it, only I didn’t know you then, and was too shy to comment. Now, I spill my thoughts on just about every single post! (Thank you, Chris, for being such a gracious host). Sorry for the mess I often leave behind 😉 .
The story behind this was heartbreaking. I never knew, and yet heard it played all month long on BBN radio during the Christmas season. Even then, I hummed the tune, but didn’t follow the words. Now, my simple appreciation has turned to awe to the tenth power.
Every evening, BBN has a short snippet of a program on Hymns and their histories. The ones that minister to believers the most are the ones borne out of tragedy and/or great suffering. I’ve never been able to hear them again without being profoundly touched and grateful for the Holy Spirit’s work in those persons’ lives, blessing generations to come.
Mess??? I know we agree on many things, Pearl. I am in strong opposition to the “mess” comment. (I tried to put a “smiley” here and forgot how to do it.)
Even though it’s February, this song has stayed with me since mid-December. In a testimony service at our church on Sunday night, I was able to share the story. I had shared with no one in my church how the song we had sung there a few months back had touched me. Like you and me, most of the folks there had never heard the story behind the song. When I got to the part of the story where Mr. Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas day and picked up his pen, I almost lost it.
I wish we had BBN close by. It sounds like a great station. I echo the words of your last paragraph. How often has the grace of God worked through something tragic?
I am also in awe.