My 6-year-old daughter, Amelia, has just finished reading about the blind composer, poet and hymn writer, Fanny Crosby. Earlier today, as I was washing dishes, I began singing the song “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Imagine my surprise to find that the man who wrote the words to this famous hymn was also blind. It was William Walford of England who penned the words in 1845, but it wasn't until the great poet William Bradbury put the words to music and published it in 1859 that it became famous.
Think about some of the hymns that Fanny Crosby wrote: “Wonderful Words of Life,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Near the Cross.” I am absolutely amazed at how God has used these two writers despite their disabilities to inspire millions throughout the years to have faith in God. One would think that being blind would make one bitter or cause one to turn away from God. I'm sure some might say that, ” if God really loved me, he wouldn't have made me blind (disabled, etc.)” However, God has a plan a purpose for everything. The main goal in everything is to give God glory.
” For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…. ” ( Jeremiah 29:11-14)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (NIV)
Yes, I believe God doesn't make mistakes. There is a reason and a purpose behind everything, even obstacles and trials. Sometimes, the main reason is simply that God might get the glory. We look at the life of Fanny Crosby and most of us would wish that she had her sight. However, she has been quoted in saying that if offered her sight, she would not accept it, for she felt that God had it planned that she would be blind. She considers that perhaps all the events that took place in her life would not have taken place had she had sight. She might not have had her strong faith in God and she might not have written a single poem or hymn. Instead, throughout her lifetime she wrote more than a thousand poems and hymns all examples of God's love to us. God used both Fanny Crosby and William Walford in a great way for His glory through their obstacles and trials of life.
Does God do the same with your life? Can you look back on times of great trial and tribulation and see how God used your experiences to bring glory to Himself? Often there may be times when we wish that certain events had not taken place: death of a loved one, illness, loss of physical health, accident, etc. However, as one matures in Christ, even in times of heartache one can see God at work for His glory through the events. Remember, even Christ asked God before His crucifixion that this cup may pass before Him. ( Matthew 26:39). Sometimes, we don't want to endure, but if it is God's will, may He get glory from all of it.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3) (NIV)
Going back to the words from William Walford and William Bradbury's song, “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” take a look at the first verse.
“Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer,
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father's throne
Make all my wants and wishes known;
In seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter's snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer.”
The words remind us to pray continually. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) God is always with you.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Throughout Scripture we are reminded God is always with us and desires a relationship with us. How does one have a relationship with anyone? Get to know that person better. How do you do that with God? Study the Word, His Word, the Bible and pray. Prayer is the instant messaging system of God. God never sleeps. He hears everyone of our prayers 24/7/365. ” In seasons of distress and grief, my soul has often found relief.”
Can you say that? Do you turn to God for refuge and strength in time of need? I hope so. Do you make all your wants and wishes known? I hope so. Do you praise Him in times of joy and in times of grief? I hope so. Are we all learning the power of a sweet hour of prayer? I hope so.
“You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.” Psalm 65:2
Sweet Hour of Prayer done by the group Acapella