If You're Hurting, Read this Scottish Preacher's Amazing Story

Originally published on Rocking God's House.

Note: Usually I write a movie review for Fridays. This week I decided to hold off on the review and publish this instead, an old post that I’ve been saving — something that I believe will encourage you.

George Matheson was a Scottish preacher from the late 1800s. At the age of twenty, he was engaged to be married. Suddenly, he began to go blind and eventually lost his sight completely. When the doctors declared that the blindness was irreversible, his fiancee abandoned him. She refused to go through life married to a blind man.

The joy of Eros’ true love so glorified by humanity failed George in his greatest time of need.

He was heart-broken.

Years later, when he attended his sister’s wedding, the event brought back the tragic memories of his lost love who forsook him, and his heart broke all over again. In those moments of great sorrow re-kindled, he penned one of the most beloved hymns of his generation, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go. I have pasted the words to this hymn below.

But first, I’d like to share an amazing quote written by this man of God:

‘Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress’ Psalms 4:1.

This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering:

‘Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.’

He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.  And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.”

We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature.

The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience.

The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal. My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory.

Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain. –George Matheson

And now here is his hymn:

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 Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer 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.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.