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“Because He Lives”

Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.

Jesus said, “Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you also will live.”  —John 14:19

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with You.” — Psalm 139:16-18

Researching the stories behind hymns of our Christian faith has been a particular joy to me. Knowing what was in the minds of the songwriters just seems to make the lyrics come alive. On April 14th, in an Excellent or Praiseworthy devotional named “These Two Things I Know” I recounted the story behind the great song, “Jesus Loves Me.”  The lady who wrote that children’s classic, Anna B. Warner, was in military ministry during the Civil War, leading Bible studies with cadets at West Point. It’s exciting to think about some of our great military leaders during that conflict having been taught by one who could so succinctly and powerfully proclaim the truth of God’s word.

Each year at this time I have another opportunity to consider the words in another great song of praise—“Because He Lives” by Bill and Gloria Gaither.  The Gaithers are famous for many of our most popular contemporary gospel songs—“There’s Something About that Name”, “Let’s Just Praise the Lord”, “It is Finished”, “He Touched Me”, “The King is Coming”, “Something Beautiful”, and many, many more. For most of their collaborations Gloria writes the lyrics and Bill writes the music. . . . and between them they have published some 600 titles since their marriage in 1962.

But the story behind “Because He Lives” resonates with our family in a way that I think matches other families during these turbulent times.  In the late 1960s, the Gaithers were facing the birth of their third child during a time when illness, extended family problems, financial unknowns, the Vietnam war, rampant teaching of “God is dead” in our educational systems, racial tension, drug abuse—and even some voices calling for population control—weighed oppressively on their minds and hearts.  Gloria’s thoughts were accompanied by fear, doubt, and torment as she pondered the reality of bringing a child into this crazy world.

Then one night . . .  “after a simple prayer by one of Bill’s close friends—a prayer that commanded the devil to back off—both Bill and Gloria recall that the strength of the Holy Spirit seemed to come to their aid. Christ’s resurrection, in all its power, was reaffirmed in their hearts. They were assured that the future, left in God’s hands, would be just fine. In July 1970 a healthy baby, Benjamin, was born. Inspired by the miracle of their son’s birth, ‘Because He Lives’ poured out of the Gaithers’ grateful hearts. The song clearly affirms the hope believers have in Christ. We can face tomorrow, with all its uncertainty, as we realize that God holds the future and makes life worth living.”  (

Two years ago, amidst the financial turmoil on Wall Street, division over politics and clashes of worldviews in our nation and around the world, a global war on terror, hurricanes and earthquakes, and many of the same social problems whose consequences were just becoming known when the song was written, our daughter and her husband celebrated the birth of their beautiful baby girl. Our whole family is joyous because of the hope and excitement with this little one.  We praise God, Who has known this child from before she was born, and Who loves her and has a plan for her life—as He does all of us.

Consider thoughtfully the words of “Because He Lives”, knowing now the story behind the song and its poignant second verse:

“God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!”  (copyright by William J. Gaither, 1971)

Perhaps during deployment you are wondering what the future will hold. We don’t know. But, as the song says, we know Who holds the future!  And that’s good enough for me, because I know that He is good. His birth into this sin-cursed world, His life of demonstrated love, His death on the cross as a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, and His resurrection which paves the way to heaven for those who believe and follow Christ is the real story behind the song “Because He Lives.”  Faith in Jesus Christ expressed in this sweet song  may reflect a simple child-like faith, but it is the kind of faith that our Lord calls us to when He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)  Just as my little granddaughter trusts her mommy and daddy because of her innocence and helplessness, we are to trust our Heavenly Father.  That is the kind of peace the Holy Spirit gives us when we believe and follow, even during these turbulent times.

Questions to Share:

. Do you know the simple faith contained in the Gaithers’ song?  If you do not, please read the EorP devotional “Keep On Praying” from Oct 4, 2007. Let today be the day that you give your life to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2.  What words in the song “Because He Lives” particularly speak to you and encourage you during this deployment?

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