We would believe: Lord, help our unbelieving,
where faith’s foundations tremble under grief.
Has the Almighty One deserted heaven?
We would believe: Lord, help our unbelief.
See reason’s children groping for some meaning,
hear sorrow’s crying muffled under fears;
can human wretchedness be touched by healing
at fading shrines of flowers, wet with tears?
Where lives are fragile, threatened and dependent,
where emptiness envelops every day;
there may we open doors for Love resplendent:
light up the route that leads to Christ the Way.
Transform our faith from attitude to action,
speak through our lips, select our every word.
Send through our lives the depth of God’s compassion
that worlds may know our ever-living Lord.
Words © 2002 Beverley Jones (CCLI no. 7156870)
Suggested tune: Highwood (StF 3 & 720)
Ideas for use
The words of this hymn say something of where, arguably, the Church should work harder to be in times of great sadness, but where we have often failed to offer an appropriate presence. One StF submissions group member said: “Our fixation with the past and tendency to hide within our fellowship rather than be a clear voice for God’s presence in the world has allowed a more secular culture for handling grief to flourish. This hymn is a useful starting point for conversation on this matter perhaps.”
Beverley Jones’s hymn is unusual in exploring ideas that would sit comfortably in both the Mission and Evangelism section of Singing the Faith and also the Conflict, Suffering and Doubt section.
She begins by alluding to a healing miracle included in the Gospel of Mark. The episode is prefaced with Jesus’ exasperated cry: “What an unbelieving generation!” How long shall I be with you?” A desperate father then brings his sick and fitting child to Jesus and asks him to help. “Everything is possible to one who believes”, Jesus says; and the father replies: “I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9: 14–29; also see Matthew 17: 14-20)
Initially, however, Beverley had in mind occasions of public tragedy and outpourings of grief. She says:
“I wrote this following a seminar at Hope University, Liverpool, entitled “Methodism and the Articulation of the Faith”. We find we are not alone in being concerned at the population’s inability to grieve and then move on. The placing of masses of flowers and children’s toys at significant places appears to be the only source of comfort [see v.2]. Where is faith?”
Beverley’ response is that, by transforming our faith “from attitude to action”, we may begin to “light up the route that leads to Christ the Way”.
Beverley Jones was born and grew up in New Zealand, emigrating to the UK in 1992. A primary schoolteacher and arts administrator by profession, her UK church involvement has included regular playing of organ and piano in the Clitheroe Circuit, roles at circuit and district level, and a two-year term on Methodist Council. Between 2003 and 2011, she was an elected borough councillor and was borough mayor in 2009-10.
Beverley has been writing poetry and hymns since the 1980s, but describes her output as “spasmodic”. Her poem “Signposts” was placed first in the 2015 Methodist Recorder Poetry competition.