Hymn History: “Does Jesus Care?”

2 min

In the late 1800s, a Philadelphia pastor was known by the nickname “the Sunshine Minister.” Reverend Frank Graeff had a radiant personality and an ever-­present smile. Because of his sunny demeanor and simple faith, children were often drawn to him.

Although Reverend Graeff’s nickname indicated a life filled with joy, the man also knew heartache and spiritual trials. While his specific difficulties and sorrows are unknown, at one point in his life he struggled with depression. The man recognized by many for his cheerful countenance found himself crumbling under overwhelming burdens. 

Amid his helplessness and misery, Reverend Graeff wisely turned to Christ, the only One Who could truly understand his soul’s sorrow. During this severe season of his life, Reverend Graeff reflected upon the words of a particular hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” As he read the words of truth and comfort about Jesus being a Friend Who cares about our sorrows, the despondent minister’s burdens were lifted! Encouraged by the hymn, he turned to I Peter 5:7 in his Bible and read: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” God’s Word strengthened his heart, and Reverend Graeff was inspired to write his own song to proclaim the Lord’s care in difficult times. The hymn “Does Jesus Care?” was the result. The hymn resounds with assurance of Jesus’ sensitivity to our trials:

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth and song;
As the burdens press and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
O yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares. 

As a result of God meeting the deep need of his soul, Reverend Graeff gained a deeper life message and developed a better understanding of others’ needs. God then used this empathy to enable Reverend Graeff to better care for and serve those in his church who were also experiencing trials and suffering. When we turn to God in times of trouble, He uses those trials to develop our sensitivity, which is “exercising my senses so I can perceive the true spirit and emotions of those around me.”

Our God is not callous or uncaring! His knowledge and understanding are infinite. He sees and hears you. He is sensitive to your thoughts and emotions. Likewise, we should be sensitive to others. Is someone you know experiencing a hardship? How might you encourage him? May God enable us to exercise our senses so we may be sensitive to those He brings into our lives.

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