God’s intention, in every occasion of suffering, is to bring gain from our pain. More than one hundred years ago, on June 6, 1882, one man’s experience of heartbreak gave birth to a hymn that has provided balm to many other aching hearts.
George Matheson went blind shortly after becoming engaged, and his fiancée, whom he dearly loved, broke the engagement. The grief he felt coupled with the inevitable loneliness and agony of rejection could have caused anger or depression. However, Matheson found his trial to be the very means of illuminating the love of God. He turned his thoughts away from his loss, away from the powerful temptations to self-pity and bitterness, and turned the gaze of his soul to a far greater love—one that would never let him go. And his grief was transformed. The simple and profound words of his hymn, written in a matter of minutes on the eve of his sister’s marriage, reflect that fact:
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.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
God could have spared George Matheson the pain he went through, but He chose instead to give him something far more precious—“beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Matheson entered the wilderness of suffering—as we all will at some point in life—but he emerged with God’s own sweet treasure. His faith laid hold of the promise and, amazingly, he found that the pain had been exchanged for joy.
The verses written as a result of suffering became one of the great hymns of the church.
“The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.” – C. H. Spurgeon
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent, Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has not wound nor scar?
– By Amy Carmichael
With the help of a concordance, look up the words “suffer” and “suffering” along with synonyms such as “affliction” and “trial.” Make a list of all the benefits you find that can result through properly enduring such a time.