This article is part of our Hymn Series, releasing throughout the month of June leading up to the launch of our new Be Still collection. Rooted in praise to the Lord, hymns have a way of helping us slow down to really reflect on and appreciate truths about God and the gospel as we sing the lyrics and meditate on their meaning. It is our prayer that the new resources in the Be Still collection would do the same. The Be Still collection features a hymn-themed stationery set, a brand new Be Still & Know study on the Christ hymns of Colossians and Philippians, and updated versions of our Be Still & Know: Romans 12:9–21 and Be Still & Know: Ephesians 4:17–32 studies. Find these products in the Well-Watered Co. beginning on Wednesday, June 16th!
It was a beautiful November day in the country hills of Tennessee. I stood next to my husband, gripping his hand as if my life depended on not letting go. The heels of my best black shoes were sinking into the soft grass, and a cool breeze sent a chill through my body as we sang the first few verses of a hymn I’d heard my whole life but never fully understood until this very moment. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound / That saved a wretch like me / I once was lost but now am found / Was blind, but now I see.
As reality began to settle around me, the shock of the last few weeks finally came into clear focus: the hospital, the news I never saw coming, and my baby’s sweet, motionless body resting in my arms. I blinked back hot tears and stared at the tiny mound of dirt and beautiful baby pink roses in front of me. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear / And grace my fears relieved / How precious did that grace appear / The hour I first believed!
My voice cracked as I struggled to get the words out while watching a piece of my heart lowered into the ground. Shovel by shovel, I clung to the words of the hymn like a lifeboat. The Lord has promised good to me / His Word my hope secures / He will my shield and portion be / As long as life endures.
How Sweet the Sound
The truth of this hymn was a priceless gift to me on a wretched day. When I didn’t have the words to say, the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” lent me the words I desperately needed but couldn’t form on my own. Never before had I relied so heavily upon the grace of God as the day we buried our little girl. While I’ve known the precious gift of grace for much of my life, I never understood just how amazing it truly is until it kept me standing, kept me singing, and kept me worshipping Jesus when I thought grief would surely crush me.
Just like this beautiful hymn begins, it’s likely that you’ve also had a time in your life where the grace of God strikes you with beautiful clarity. Maybe, like me, you were standing by the grave of a loved one, or maybe the gospel message washed over you while sitting in a pew on Sunday morning. Wherever you found yourself when you fully grasped the good news of amazing grace, do you remember how it felt?
If I’m honest with you, in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of my everyday life, I struggle to recapture the awe of God’s sustaining grace. In my honest experience, it’s all too easy to become desensitized to the sweet sound of amazing grace when I forget about the wretchedness of my sin or when I shield myself from the brokenness of the world. However, the amazing thing about grace is that it sounds the sweetest when our circumstances are the most bitter. When our eyes are finally opened to the depth of sin and brokenness in the world (especially our own), the lavish grace of God becomes the beautiful lens through which we see the hope of the cross.
How Precious Did That Grace Appear
But just like we can never get over the good news of the gospel, we should never become deaf to the sweet sound of amazing grace. Grace itself is the very heart of the gospel message that our salvation hinges upon—even though we don’t deserve it, hope is on the way. Even when nothing in this world can fix what’s been broken by evil and sin, grace stands in the gap through the outstretched arms of Jesus and washes over us with redemption we never could earn for ourselves.
As believers, it’s crucial for us to remember that God’s grace doesn’t just get us through difficult seasons or cover us when we kneel at the altar and ask for forgiveness. God’s grace is what sustains us every moment of our entire lives. For every good thing in our lives, we are completely dependent upon the precious grace of God.
The Lord Has Promised Good To Me
In the days following my daughter’s graveside service, one line from the hymn kept repeating itself over and over again in my heart and mind. The Lord has promised good to me. And honestly, I struggled to believe it. “Really, God?” I remember praying. “Where is the good you promised me, Lord? Don’t I deserve some good?” But as I’ve prayed and wrestled with God through this season, he’s gently (and not so gently) reminded me again and again that an entitled spirit will always keep me from recognizing his grace.
If I’m completely honest, entitlement isn’t a new issue in my life. In general, I’m quick to feel entitled to the good God has promised me. However, by definition, grace is receiving something that you don’t deserve. So when I feel like God is holding out on me or when I feel slighted by him, I have to intentionally remind myself that God has already given me far more than I deserve. In fact, according to the Bible, the only thing I actually deserve on my own is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). But because of the blood of Jesus and the grace of God, I have received so much more.
Ultimately, all of the good God has already given to me and all of the good God has promised me in the future is only by his grace upon amazing grace. God hasn’t promised good to me because I’ve been good—he’s promised good to me because he is good! And because grace depends upon his goodness, it will never run out. Praise God that his grace is truly endless!
He Will My Shield and Portion Be as Long as Life Endures
As long as life endures, God’s grace will always be enough. No matter what you’re facing right now, sister, his grace will be sufficient for you. It is powerful enough to carry you through tragedy, and it is strong enough to sustain you through every trial—big and small.
Grace is our shield and our portion. It’s our hope and our joy. It’s our comfort and our strength. But I think the classic hymn describes it best: grace is truly amazing. As you meditate on the lyrics below, I pray that you would be overcome with awe—whether for the first or the hundredth or the thousandth time—by the depth of the grace that God offers us through Christ.
Lyrics: John Newton (1779)
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
his Word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
a life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
the sun forbear to shine;
but God, who called me here below,
will be forever mine.