Typical Tune: RATHBUN
Let me put this hymnline in context of the stanza:
When the woes of life o’ertake me, hopes deceive and fears annoy,
Never shall the cross forsake me: Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
Our one hope in Jesus Christ will never deceive us; however, our many hopes for this life’s personal fulfillment may. This is our tendency to “wish” for things to happen, not our confidence in Christ. These wishful-thinkings can deceive us… even drive us mad if we’re not careful. The film NEBRASKA is about a man who believes he has actually won the $1,000,000 as told by a flyer that came into everyone’s mailbox – and travels across country to claim it. That’s a great example of hopes that deceive, wishes that betray us or lead us astray. I think you get the picture without my giving you a list from my own embarrassing experiences.
We’ve already talked about my tendency to live in fear; and if you are in that pothole with me, you understand how “fears annoy.” Sure, they claw at you all the time causing worry and distress, but worst of all, they hold you back from doing what you KNOW you should do – even what you believe yourself called to do.
A recent sermon on David and Goliath made me more-totally-than-usual aware of my inability to face my fears and slay my giants. Perhaps that sermon and this hymnline will spur me on to good works – works that happen because I am slowly being freed of that proclivity.
Of course, the point of this hymn’s second stanza is that when the woes, deceits and annoyance of this life overwhelm us, we can rest assured that the Man of the cross will not abandon us, and that image of up-stretched timber serves as a constant reminder.
Today, you are likely to encounter many crosses: displayed on walls, hung around necks, atop church steeples, etc. Let each one remind you that even if you are convinced that you are drowning in the cares of this life, you are “no, never alone” – your REAL hope is still here.