A sunny day, salty breeze, and picnic on the beach. It would be the perfect day for the Stead family…
Luisa Stead came to the United States from England when she was twenty-one years old. She met and married her husband at church only a little while later. They were both passionate christians who served Christ together and loved each other deeply.
It wasn’t long after their marriage that Luisa found she was expecting their first baby. They were overjoyed with the news, as any couple would be. All went well with the pregnancy and they welcomed a baby girl to the world, whom they named Lily.
When Lily turned four years old, the Steads planned a trip to Long Island Sound. It would be a perfect day at the beach. Warm breezes and plenty of sunshine, all topped off with a picnic lunch. Mr. Stead played with Lily in the water while Luisa spread out their lunch on the sandy beach. The family sat to enjoy their meal in the New York sunshine.
While they were eating, ear-piercing screams caught their attention. Out in the choppy waves they could see a boy struggling to keep his head above water. The screams cut in and out as the boy was plunged beneath the waves and then popped back above them.
Mr. Stead wasted no time in taking action. He bolted toward the water to rescue the boy, telling Luisa and Lily to stay where they were.
Luisa held tightly to Lily and watched the scene unfold before her. In desperation, the boy was flailing and struggling against the might of the water. Mr. Stead reached him and began to pull him toward shore. He had little success though as the boy struggled in panic.
Luisa watched helplessly and in horror as Mr. Stead was drug beneath the surface of the water by the boy’s struggle. Both the boy and Mr. Stead drowned that day, Luisa and little Lily still watching from the shore.
Luisa was beyond grief stricken. She was not only left a very young widow, but also with a small child to raise and support on her own. She didn’t have any way of providing for Lily, and she had no family in the States to help her.
In the following weeks Luisa would have to learn to trust Jesus. She found herself without any food to feed Lily, much less anything for herself. Bills were coming due, and she had no way of paying them. Her shattered heart was aching with pain after watching her husband die. Luisa Stead had reached the end of her rope. The only recourse she had was to trust that God would care for her and little Lily, and somehow make something beautiful from the agony that had torn her heart to pieces.
God did care for them, as he promised he would. When the food ran out, Luisa would find meals left mysteriously on their front step. She didn’t know where they had come from or who had left them, but she knew that she could trust her life and her daughter’s life to the care of her loving Savior.
Only months after watching her husband drown while trying to save the little boy, Luisa Stead penned the words to the famous hymn, ‘Tis So Sweet.
With the scene of her husband’s death still fresh in memory, she wrote with great conviction the fourth verse. Even as she remembered and saw in her mind the terrible flood of water that stole her husband’s life, she rejoiced that he had been plunged beneath the cleansing flood of Jesus and was securely in Heaven.
Luisa Stead had learned that Jesus is a trustworthy friend, wiling to bear our deepest burdens and console us when grief goes beyond any words. For indeed, ’tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. Oh for grace to trust him more.