On the evening of his sister’s wedding, George Matheson sat alone in the parsonage. Totally blind by the age of 20, this Scottish preacher, author, and hymn writer, who lived from 1842 to 1906, was left to fend for himself, while the rest of his family spent the night in another town.
Born with poor eyesight, Dr. Matheson’s vision had gradually declined over the years until he lost it completely. His sister had always taken care of him and now that she was married, he would be without her.
While sitting there alone, he had a deep wrenching in his soul, a severe mental anguish, which he never confided the source to anyone. Part of the reason for his anguish may have been that, as his thoughts lingered on his sister’s wedding, he remembered the pain of having a sweetheart who, after hearing the doctor’s report that George would become totally blind by the age of 20, could not handle taking care of a blind man the rest of her life, so, she left him.
As he sat there that dark evening in anguish, a song welled up within him from that still, small voice of the Lord, which he quickly jotted down in five minutes time, composing all the stanzas, which included these beautiful words:
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
Though human love has the potential to disappoint and depart from us, God’s love will never let us go. He says, “I have loved you, O My people, with an everlasting love; with loving-kindness I have drawn you to Me.” (Jer. 31:3 TLB)
On occasion, we tend to forget that God really does love us, that He is always present in our darkest hours, and that He has a purpose for everything, for He “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Eph. 1:11b NIV)
When we struggle with physical conditions and wonder why we are not healed, when we wrestle with circumstances beyond our control, when we suffer some heart-breaking pain, we would do well to remember the words of this blind preacher’s prayer:
I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses,
but never once for my ‘thorn’…
Teach me the glory of my cross;
teach me the value of my thorn.
Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain.
Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.