I Could Not Do Without Thee

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you
by your name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:2

My heart was shattered into a million pieces. My brother's high-school sweetheart was dying and she would leave behind a wide-eyed six-year old daughter and a precious ten-year old son who had the saddest brown eyes I had ever seen.

"I could not do without Thee, O Savior of the lost,
Whose precious blood redeemed me at such tremendous cost;"

It had been almost two years since Lori's initial diagnosis of stage-four breast cancer. She had suffered through a radical mastectomy, radiation, chemotherapy, and then enjoyed a short time with no symptoms. But a few months later the new diagnosis came and it was bone cancer. That was followed by more chemo and a desperate trip to Mexico for alternative treatment. We prayed thousands upon thousands of prayers begging God to heal Lori here, but now it looked like God would be taking her to Heaven.  

"Thy righteousness, Thy pardon, Thy precious blood,

Must be my only hope and comfort, my glory and my plea."


Lori and I had been friends since we were in our mid-teens, and I had been her bridesmaid when she married my brother. Just one week later she stood beside me at my wedding as the matron of honor. We had so many fun memories-like the time we tried on wedding gowns together, and laughed at the joy of it all. But now she was leaving, and no more memories would be made.


"I could not do without Thee; I cannot stand alone,

I have no strength or goodness, No wisdom of my own;"


I questioned everything. Was there sin in my heart, keeping my prayers from being answered? How would we ever live without her? How could her children possibly grow up without their loving mother? During the day I sighed constantly and night after night darkness engulfed me with the unthinkable: My brother's wife was dying, and I was helpless to do anything about it.


"But Thou, beloved Savior, Art all in all to me,

And weakness will be power If leaning hard on Thee."


The first Sunday of June a group of singers from a Christian college was scheduled to minister during the evening service at our church. Nothing in me wanted to go to church, but I dragged my broken heart out the door. The anticipation of crushing loss had robbed me of my appetite, and I was weak both in mind and body. Church was always a family time, but, for a reason I do not recall, only four-year old Benjamin went with me.


"I could not do without Thee; Oh Jesus, Savior, Dear.

E'en when my eyes are holden, I know that thou art near."


We sat close to the front and I cried through most of the service. Somehow Ben had come to accept my tears, and sat quietly beside me listening to the music. The harmonies were unexpectedly soothing, and my sorry soul leaned hard into Jesus' chest, allowing the tears to flow. Near the end of the service they sang "I Could Not Do Without Thee", a song written by Frances R. Havergal in 1873. The words offered hope to my weary soul and I instantly claimed them as my own. I knew I was helpless to take on this crushing loss without Jesus, and the lyric perfectly echoed my heart's cry.


"How dreary and how lonely this changeful life would be without the sweet communion, the secret rest with Thee."

That song was God's gift to me. I bought a CD from the group that included that song and just started playing it. I could not bear the reality of the inevitable and didn't know how to pray anymore. But those words became my daily heart-cry to God. I desperately clung to this one hope I had-the help found in the arms of Jesus.


"I could not do without Thee, for years are fleeting fast,

And soon in solemn loneness the river must be passed;"


Later that week God gathered Lori's cancer-riddled body into His arms and gently carried her home. A few days later, as we prepared to go to the funeral home to view Lori's body I discovered that I was paralyzed with grief and could hardly move. Everything was so final, and I didn't know how our family could live without her. I hit replay on the boom-box again and again. "I could not do without Thee; Oh Jesus, Savior, Dear."


It took me a couple of hours to get ready. I put on make-up, then cried it back off. Trying to figure out how to get dressed, I finally collapsed onto the bed, sobbing again. But my heart clutched at the words playing in the background: "But Thou, beloved Savior, art all in all to me, and weakness will be power If leaning hard on Thee."


I did not know how desperately I would need that song in the year to follow. It turned out that in a span of twelve months I knew twelve people, including Lori, who died. "I could not do without Thee; I cannot stand alone, I have no strength or goodness, No wisdom of my own;"


Even though she has been gone almost twenty years, I still miss Lori dearly. But I thank God for the song that He gave me right when I needed it most-a song that soothed my soul and kept me company through many more dark days and long nights.


"But Thou wilt never leave me, and though the waves roll high, I know Thou wilt be near me, and whisper, “It is I.”


God's timing is always perfect. He has always carried me in the past, and based on His unfailing track record, I know I can depend on Him for the future.


"I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5


I encourage you to click on this link to hear that precious melody. Why not make it your prayer, like I made it mine?


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