Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide:
when other helpers fail and comforts flee,
help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Abide with Me is a familiar hymn that Henry Francis Lyte penned while battling tuberculosis. What a thrilling prayer request: for God to abide with us always, and even more so when the “darkness deepens” or “other helpers fail.” But what does it mean for God to abide with us?
It says in John 15:9, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” To abide in Jesus’ love means to abide in Jesus because Jesus is love. In the gospel, Jesus lays out three benefits of abiding in him. First, abiding in Jesus means that the love of God is present in us, and, as a result, we can love like Jesus. Like most things, this is much harder than it sounds. Jesus loved unconditionally and without judgment.
Second, abiding in Jesus and loving like Jesus creates the byproduct of joy. We become joyful and joy is present when Jesus abides with us and when we abide in Jesus’ love.
Later in “Abide with Me,” Lyte mentions the dimming of earth’s joys:
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
In life, sometimes joy is hard to find, especially when disappointments and setbacks are the order of the day and God seems far or prayers seem unanswered. It is difficult to keep one’s joy when there is no hope, or the walls seem to be caving in all around us.
Nehemiah 8:10, however, reminds us that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Third, abiding in Jesus means that we are anointed to bear fruit that will last. Jesus says, “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name” (John 15:16).
The proof is in the pudding. What fruits are you bearing? A good tree does not bear bad fruit. Jesus is serious about his disciples bearing fruit. Good fruit. Fruit that will last.
Like Lyte, if we acknowledge our helpless state and ask Jesus to abide with us, teaching us to love like him, we can joyfully sing out in confidence:
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.