Close Menu X
Navigate

November Song of the Month

Twice in the book of Matthew, Jesus says that those who would follow Him must take up their own crosses (Matthew 10:38-39; 16:24-28). These are strong words. Jesus was shamed and tortured to death, and those who would follow this Messiah in glory must be willing to follow Him in shame and in pain. For many Christians, taking up your cross is no mere metaphor. The early church suffered violent persecution, and we read reports even today of Christians in Syria who are being crucified by ISIS.

We aren’t likely to know this kind of suffering for our faith here in the US. But the call still comes to us to take up our crosses, and it still calls for a radical self-denial. Lyte’s hymn draws this out: “Perish every fond ambition, / All I’ve sought or hoped or known.” Lyte realized that all of his dreams and plans for personal success or pleasure in this life—even the good things he might have sought for himself—need to be surrendered if we’re to seek first the kingdom of God. The words of Matthew 10:27 are sobering for anyone who has been a parent: “Whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

And yet, Henry F. Lyte finds something unexpected in this truth: comfort. He writes,

Man may trouble and distress me,
’Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.

Some Christians must give up their very lives to follow Christ. Others will merely give up the American dream. All of us will be led into suffering as we follow Christ. But the comfort is this: we are following Christ. We know that He is with us to the end, and in the end, those who suffer with Him will be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken,
Thou from hence my all shalt be:

Perish every fond ambition,
All I’ve sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition,
God and heav’n are still my own!

Man may trouble and distress me,
‘Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me,
Heav’n will bring me sweeter rest.

O ‘tis not in grief to harm me,
While Thy love is left to me;
O ‘twere not in joy to charm me,
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Hasten on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heav’n’s eternal days before me,
God’s own hand shall guide me there.

Soon shall close my earthly mission,
Swift shall pass my pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise.