Anna and Susan Warner lived in a beautiful New York City townhouse with their father, a successful lawyer, during the mid-1800’s. Unfortunately, the Panic of 1837 destroyed their finances and forced the family to move into a ramshackle Revolutionary War-era home near the West Point Military Academy. Knowing they needed to begin contributing to the family income, they began writing stories and soon became very well-known. One of their most successful stories was a novel entitled Say and Seal. It was a story of a young boy who was dying. In the book, his Sunday school teacher comforts him by taking him in his arms, rocking him, and making up a little song:
Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.
Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me on my way.
He’s prepared a home for me, and someday His face I’ll see.
The novel eventually became a bestseller, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. When William Bradbury, a famous hymn writer, read the words of this song, he composed a simple, child-like melody to go along with it. “Jesus Loves Me” quickly became the best-known children’s hymn.
Paulo Coelho, a Brazilian author, once said, “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” I, too, think that children can teach adults three things: to be fearless, to love unconditionally, and to not worry about tomorrow. These same three lessons can be learned from Jesus Loves Me.
- To Be Fearless. Children have no fear when it comes to sticking their hand on a hot stove, and they certainly don’t fear saying something that you didn’t want repeated at an inappropriate time. Children fear nothing, unlike adults. We have so many fears that we have learned over the course of our lifetime, fears that are simply illusions like fear of the unknown, fear of being judged, fear of being alone, fear of rejection, fear of what the future might bring, etc.
Psalm 23: 4 (NIV) tells us “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” What is the most important word in that verse? Through. We aren’t walking into that valley to stay; we are simply passing through it. And because of that, we have no reason to be overcome with fear because God is on our side. In the first verse of Jesus Loves Me, we sing that He loves us even though we may be weak. We can come to Him broken down and helpless, but we have no need to be afraid of the outcome because “He is strong.”
- To Love Unconditionally. Children don’t love with an expectation of something in return, they just love. As adults, that is often times difficult concept to employ. Children have no biases when it comes to love. When you smile at a child, 9 times out of 10, he will smile back at you with a huge smile for no other reason than your mere presence.
Take the first line of this hymn, “Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” It doesn’t say “Jesus loves me because I did x, y, and z.” In love, there are no exceptions. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” God didn’t send His son to die on a cross just so that we would do something for Him in return. He sent His son to die because He loved us with a love so deep that we could not even begin to grasp it. He loved us then as He loves us now, unconditionally.
- To Not Worry About Tomorrow. Every day a child wakes up, it’s a new day for him, a brand new world to explore. The have a curiosity to find out new things, they have enthusiasm, and they have energy with the start of each new day. As adults, we seem to have lost this energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm. We worry about how to makes ends meet, how to be at two places at the same time, how to get everything done before we have to fix dinner etc.
The final verse of Jesus Loves Me reminds us that God will stay with us no matter where we go in life. Ultimately, this world has nothing for us, and we shouldn’t worry about the future because God has it all in control. One day, we will be able to put the troubles of this world behind us and go home to heaven where He has prepared a place for us. Matthew 6:34 (NIV) tells us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I pray that no matter what trials you may be facing you will find comfort in knowing that Jesus loves you.