721 Jesus I am Resting, Resting

Listen to devotion

Story Behind the Hymn

In 1900, a secret organization was forming in China. The goal was to make regular attacks on foreigners and Christians in order to hinder them from entering their country. This led to the Boxer Rebellion, so-called because the rebels performed rituals and exercises they believed would make them able to withstand bullets, something westerners likened to shadow boxing. 

On July 9, 1900, Hudson Taylor, a well-known missionary, was in China during the Boxer Rebellion when 45 Christians were killed in the Taiyuan Massacre. During the revolution, many of Taylor’s friends were brutally slain, including Thomas Piggott. Piggott’s sister, Jean, wrote “Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting,” a “missionary’s hymn.” It provided rest and calmness amid turmoil for Taylor, his co-laborers for Christ, and countless others through the years. 

The book “Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret,” offers insight into Taylor’s connection with this hymn:

Frequently those who were wakeful in the little house at Chinkiang might hear, at two or three in the morning, the soft refrain of [Hudson] Taylor’s favorite hymn… He had learned that for him, only one life was possible—just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while He dealt with the difficulties, inward and outward great and small.” 

A story is told of a visit Hudson Taylor had from an evangelist colleague. Surprised that Taylor could whistle his favorite tune gently amid serious turmoil all around him, the colleague asked, “How can you whistle when our friends are in so much danger?” Taylor gently replied, “Would you have me anxious and troubled? That would not help them, and would certainly incapacitate me for my work. I have just to roll the burden on the Lord.” He had discovered the greatness of the Lord’s loving heart as he learned to rest in Him.

Four years before his execution, when missionaries were having considerable success in China, Thomas Piggott wrote in his journal:

“Now there are many hundreds of converts, many of them earnest, faithful men, and a large number of stations where thousands are brought under Christian influence. How shall we look on the investment of our lives and labour here, even from the near standpoint of one hundred years hence? I am, I can truly say, more grateful every day for the opportunity of serving Christ, and I believe this to be the only true and sober view of life’s realities. The work pressed home now, will make all the difference a few years hence.”

The missionaries’ work, the brutal revolution, and this hymn are still making a difference today.

Watch a YouTube video on the Story Behind the hymn,  Jesus I am Resting, Resting