By Rev. John Maempa
My dad enjoyed playing the harmonica. Though he wasn’t professional by any means, he could do a pretty decent job on his double-reed Hohner. One of his favorite songs was Fanny Crosby’s well-known hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” I can still hear dad’s harmonica whenever I think of or hear that song. The first verse declares,
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.”
Then the refrain,
“This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.”
A story about the song is told surrounding the intense Boer War in South Africa in the late 1800s that took many British lives. When soldiers going to the front were passing another body of soldiers whom they recognized, their greetings as they passed, would be, “Four-nine-four, boys; four-nine-four.” The salute would often be met with “Six further on, boys; six further on.” The significance of this was that in the hymnal sent to the front, page 494 was “God be with you till we meet again.” Six further on, or page 500, was “Blessed Assurance.”
When faced with challenges and loss, whether on a battlefield or in everyday living, assurance is a powerful thing. The blessed hope that we have in Christ keeps us going and helps us know that there is a day coming when we will be reunited with loved ones who’ve gone before and all the trials of this life will be past. As another songwriter put it, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. All trials will seem so small when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrows will erase; so bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
Prayer: O, Lord God, what a blessed hope we have in You. Regardless of the losses or the trials we experience in this life, we can know that there is a glorious day that awaits all who place their hope in You. May we walk every day in the blessed assurance that in Your presence is fullness of joy. And may we share that wonderful hope with the many that need to hear it. Amen.
Rev. John Maempa is director of the Office of Prayer & Spiritual Care for the General Council of the Assemblies of God. To learn more about the OPSC, visit www.prayer.ag.org.