Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. ~ John 14:1
As a teenager Louisa Stead felt called to be a missionary. She was born in Dover, England and went to America around age 21. She lived for a while in Cincinnati. While attending a camp meeting in Urbana, Ohio, she felt the missionary calling even more strongly. However, Louisa’s frail health prevented her from answering God’s call. She married a Mr. Stead in 1875. One summer day in the early 1880s they were relaxing with their daughter on a Long Island Sound beach. While eating their picnic lunch they heard a drowning boy's cry. Mr. Stead rushed to rescue him and Louisa watched in horror as the boy pulled her husband under the water and both were drowned. Louisa was left with no means of support except God. The day arrived when she and her daughter ended up in dire poverty with nothing. She opened the front door that morning to discover that someone had left food and money on her doorstep. That day the Lord inspired her to write this hymn.
Soon after this experience Louisa and her daughter left for missionary work in South Africa. She married Rev. Robert Wodehouse and served there 15 years. Failing health forced Louisa to return to America in 1895. During this time her husband pastored a local Methodist Church while she regained her health. In 1901 they returned to Africa, assigned to the Methodist missionary station at Umtali, in Southern Rhodesia.
Shortly after arriving there she sent this message back to her friends in America, “In connection with this whole mission there are glorious possibilities, but one cannot, in the face of the peculiar difficulties, help say, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ But with simple confidence and trust we may and do say, ‘Our sufficiency is of God.’”
She ministered to the Rhodesian people until her death in 1917 at age 67. Afterwards, a fellow missionary wrote about the continued use of Louisa’s song she had written 35 years before, “We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native tongue…”
'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word,
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know: "Thus saith the Lord."
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I've proved Him o'er and o'er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!
I'm so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
- Louisa M. R. Stead, 1882
Copied from Sing to the Lord © 1993 by Lillenas Publishing Company
Hymn commentary courtesy J. D. Sherrow