“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” (ELW 335)
1 Jesus, keep me near the cross,
there’s a precious fountain;
free to all, a healing stream
flows from Calv’ry’s mountain.
In the cross, in the cross
be my glory ever;
till my ransomed soul shall find
rest beyond the river.
2 Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me. Refrain
3 Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
bring its scenes before me;
help me walk from day to day
with its shadow o’er me. Refrain
4 Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
hoping, trusting ever,
till I reach the golden strand
just beyond the river. Refrain
This hymn reminds me that being a follower of Jesus does not guarantee comfort or ease in life. Jesus himself died on the cross. And according to tradition, all of Jesus’ apostles, save one, met martyrdom. Many of the earliest Christians faced persecution and torment for their faith, and many other Christians, both historically and today, have faced or still face many hardships.
Many of us live so far removed from the suffering that Jesus and other marginalized Christians have faced; we seem to have developed an idea that God wants us to be comfortable and happy. Truth be told, Jesus does not promise us earthly pleasures. He offers us strength, courage, and hope in the face of hardship. He offers eternal life to those who love him. He offers us the cross. There we watch and wait, hoping and trusting in a God who came to live among us.
Thank you, God, for coming to live among us and dying for us. May we always find hope in the cross of Christ. Amen.