Louisa Stead and her husband and their 4 year-old daughter lived in New York City. One afternoon during the summer of 1890, Louisa packed a picnic lunch, and their little family spent some time along the shore of long island—playing in the sand, wading in the ocean, and enjoying a few hours of relaxation and rest. She said to herself, as she watched her husband and little girl playing the sand, ‘‘My cup runneth over.’’ Her thoughts for the moment went back over the chain of events that had brought her to that happy hour.
Louisa was born in England and had come to America in 1871 on a visit with her family. She was deeply moved by a speaker’s call for young people to volunteer for missionary service in China, and she decided to go, but she was rejected on account of her health. Later she had met Mr. Stead, and they had married. God blessed their union with a sweet girl. She often said, ‘‘What more could one ask in life than a good husband and a lovely little child—and a feeling that one has found his place in God’s plan.’’
But just then, as she was sitting along the shore thinking back over the past, she saw a little boy out in the water beyond the breakers, struggling against the wind and the strong waves—trying to get back to shore. She called to her husband. ‘‘That little boy out there seems to be in trouble’’—and without hesitating at all, Mr. Stead told his wife to look after their daughter—and he plunged into the waves.
Louisa saw her husband reach the lad’s side, and place his strong arms around the struggling youth—and began to swim back toward the shore. But the boy, instead of yielding himself to the strength and skill of the older man—in his fright—kept struggling and pulling wildly. As Louisa looked on in horror, she saw the two of them go down under the waves. Later they emerged, only to drop out of sight again. She rushed to where their daughter was playing in the sand, picked the little child up, and held her close to her trembling body. She called out over the stormy waves hoping the words would reach her husband: ‘‘Darling, where are you?’’ The only answer was the echo of her own words.
Later that evening the body of Mr. Stead was recovered. The next few weeks were dark days for that heart-broken mother and her little daughter. She sought comfort from reading the words of the Bible,and from singing some of the hymns of the church. But not only were the months that followed sad and lonely, but coupled with her grief was the added burden of providing for her little family. This was before the days of social security; there was nothing like a survivor’s pension.
But one afternoon when the pantry was about empty, and there was scarcely anything left to eat, Mrs. Stead and her daughter continued to pray that God would provide for them out of His bounties. The next morning she found a large basket of food at the front door, and an envelope with enough money to buy shoes for the little girl. She was so uplifted by that experience that she began to write:
‘‘ ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word,
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, ‘‘Thus saith the Lord.’’
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er,
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh for grace to trust Him more!’’
Just as Louisa received special help after the death of her husband—so we are told also to throw our anxieties on Him, because He cares for us. ‘‘Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you’’(1Peter 5v7).