Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

July 14

Hugh Stowell, 1799–1865
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you … (Isaiah 43:2)
God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain;
And softly, heart to heart, above the din
May teach some precious truth to us again.
In Old Testament worship, the mercy seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, which housed the Mosaic tables of stone, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded. The mercy seat was a most sacred, holy place. It symbolized the place of God’s eternal presence with His people.
When the storms of life blow our way, we can either cringe in despair or flee to the heavenly Mercy Seat—the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4).There we can find the help and strength to be overcomers. Trials can sometimes embitter and harden our spirits. However, if we use the trial to lean more fully on Christ and to learn the lesson He desires to teach us, we become stronger in our faith.
Hugh Stowell, the author, was a minister in the Anglican church and was known as one of the truly evangelical leaders in the church during his time. His ministry was also characterized by a love for children and an active Sunday school in his church. This hymn text was originally titled “Peace at the Mercy Seat” and was first published in 1828 in a collection of poems by the author.
How different life would be “had suff’ring saints no mercy seat.” How important it is for God’s people to avail themselves of this “calm, sure retreat” by using prayer to commune with Him there on a consistent basis.
From ev’ry stormy wind that blows, from ev’ry swelling tide of woes, there is a calm, a sure retreat—’Tis found beneath the mercy seat.
There is a place where Jesus sheds the oil of gladness on our heads, a place than all besides more sweet—It is the blood-bought mercy seat.
There is a scene where spirits blend, where friend holds fellowship with friend; tho sundered far, by faith they meet around one common mercy seat.
Ah! Whither could we flee for aid when tempted, desolate, dismayed, or how the hosts of hell defeat, had suff’ring saints no mercy seat?
Ah! there on eagle wings we soar, and sin and sense molest no more; and heav’n comes down our souls to greet, while glory crowns the mercy seat.

    For Today: Psalm 61:2; Isaiah 25:4; Matthew 11:28; 1 Corinthians 1:3–5; Hebrews 4:16

Always remember—for the child of God, life’s storms are opportunities to learn more about Him. Thank God even now for His Heavenly Mercy Seat. Reflect on these words as you go—

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