I have written elsewhere about my search for joy after our son took his own life (see Unchanging Joy). God had directed me to focus, not on my grief, but on my unchanging joy in Christ – the joy that is always available to me in Him, no matter what the situation. I wrote the hymn Christ My Joy as a way of reconnecting with that joy.
But my hunger for unchanging joy continued. Once again I had come across the folk tune, “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes” and had felt compelled to use it as a hymn tune. In searching for an idea for a text to go with it, I was brought back to my search for joy.
Writing this hymn text proved to be a very emotional experience for me. I shed more tears in the writing of this hymn than with all my other hymns combined. I struggled.
Throughout my grief, I had never wanted to lash out at God with bitter questions. But in writing this hymn, I sensed Him compelling me to ask the questions found in the first half of v.2:
How can Your path of tender care be
So rough and dark and steep?
How can Your loving wisdom lead us
To groan and grieve and weep?
I needed to verbalize the questions in order to get at the truth. God’s answers are found in the last half of verses 2 and 3.
Sometimes God won’t answer the questions on our hearts until we ask them. So ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. But as you ask, continue to trust His wisdom and love. Otherwise your heart may be focused in the wrong direction, and you won’t hear the answers when they come.
Often when we ask the “Why?” questions, God will not explain Himself. But He will assure us of His presence. That’s the way it was with me. When I asked the “Why?” questions through this hymn, He gave me a new sense of Christ walking this road with me. And He has. He truly has walked every step with me. My grief has brought a deeper sharing with the suffering Christ.
He has showed me that I should seek, not joy, but Him. He Himself is the fullness of joy.