In Times Like These

Learning from history–and advice about preventing the coronavirus!

Why this title for the first Women of the Heartland series, taken from a childhood hymn our congregation sang in tiny Aredale, Iowa? Because the sentiment seems perfect for what Addie, my heroine faced duringWorld War II.

When I researched the hymn, which I assumed was an “Oldie” a surprise awaited me. A troubled Pennsylvania housewife penned the words in 1943, when Addie was struggling with her home front battles!

The daily Pittsburgh newspaper troubled Ruth Caye Jones, a pastor’s wife and the mother of five. World War II causality lists and the Allies’ slow progress up the boot of Italy made distressing news for the whole nation. With loved ones in harm’s way, worker shortages and rationing at home, everyone longed for normalcy.

One day, a passage in 2 Timothy chapter three, caught Ruth’s attention: But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. Inspiration took over as she jotted some lyrics on a small notepad. Then the Westminster Chimes playing on her old mantle clock supplied the tune.

The rest is history: a common housewife penned one of the most beloved Gospel songs of the 1940s and 1950s, “In Times Like These.”

In times like these we need a Savior;
In times like these we need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the One.
This Rock is Jesus, the only One!
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

Now we have our own trying times and can learn from those difficult World War II years when people constantly feared for loved ones fighting overseas. They also dealt with rationing and shortages, yet somehow navigated the ever-increasing tension that gripped our nation.

Centuriues earlier, when another era faced a daunting health challenge, one concerned citizen wrote,

You ought to think this way: “Very well… the enemy has sent [a pestilence]… I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall… administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others… If people in a city were to show themselves bold in faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as to not take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die.”—Martin Luther on “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague”(c.1527)

Isn’t it amazing how appropriate these reflections seem for our day?

During our self-quarantine, we hear lots of advice. One online friend from the U.K. sent us some helpful tips:

  • Clean metal surfaces often and carefully, as viruses can live on them for days.
  • Drink lots of warm liquids–coffee, tea, soups, and gargle with antiseptics like vinegar, lemon, and salt
  • Elevate your body’s zinc level
  • Wash hands every twenty minutes, and if you go out, take a shower when you return
  • Avoid eating and drinking cold things
  • Sip warm water every twenty minutes

I’m grateful for these practical suggestions, (It doesn’t hurt that I love hot tea, and so does Addie!)

May you and your family stay safe during this time. And may you read a lot!

2 thoughts on “In Times Like These

  1. Beautiful post, Gail! I have given my mom a copy of your book for her birthday, so I forwarded this post to her. I’m sure she’ll love it!

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