Hymns for the wilderness

December 12, 2020

“As I walked through the wilderness of this world,” Bunyan’s Pilgrilm’s Progress famously begins. Bunyan makes a profound statement about the character of the Christian believer’s earthly pilgrimage: Spiritually, we are in the wilderness while we are in the world. In relation to God, we are sons — praise Jesus and glory to God! But in relation to the world, we are pilgrims. And so to us, spiritually, the world is a wilderness. Therefore, we ought not to be surprised when, at times, the world feels like a wilderness. And we should take heart, knowing that as we walk through “the wilderness of this world” as believers in Jesus, the Lord God is leading us, guiding us, protecting us, and providing for us on a well-trodden path.

How do we navigate “the wilderness” with faith, hope, and love? That’s a big question. But recently it struck me that many well-beloved hymns speak to our “wilderness experience” as Christians. And so maybe if we take some time to listen to these hymns, meditate on their lyrics, maybe even sing them ourselves — perhaps these hymns show us the Way through the wilderness.

Here are three of those “hymns for the wilderness”:

Jesus’ Gracious Hand

When Jesus’ gracious hand,
Has touched our eyes and ears,
Oh what a dreary land the wilderness appears.
No healing balm springs from its dust,
No cooling stream to quench its thirst.

Source: “Jesus’ Gracious Hand” (Red Mountain Music)

Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven,
Feed me now and evermore

Source: “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” (Indelible Grace Hymnbook)

His Love Can Never Fail

I do not ask to see the way
My feet will have to tread;
But only that my soul may feed
Upon the living Bread.
‘Tis better far that I should walk
By faith close to His side;
I may not know the way I go, But oh, I know my Guide.

Source: “His Love Can Never Fail” (Indelible Grace Hymnbook)

Featured image photo by Jean-Baptiste Lefevre on Unsplash