Hope beyond measure

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, Virginia 2005

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, Virginia 2005

“Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me, where the dark clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free,
My Savior has my treasure, and He will walk with me.” 
Anna Laetitia Waring

On a recent Sunday at a church where we are frequent visitors, the congregation sang the hymn “In Heavenly Love Abiding,” the final verse of which is printed above.  I grew up singing this song, and its words are familiar, but hearing them in the context of my husband’s recent illness gave them new meaning for me.

I noticed in the music annotation that the hymn was written in 1850.  I could not help reflecting that these words were penned during an era when there was arguably much less reason for such optimism than there is now.  At that time, there was very little of what we would call real medical help available; no emergency rooms, no heart surgery, no chemotherapy.  In fact, even the antibiotics or anesthesia that we rely upon today were not yet developed.  And effective, compassionate medical help for depression or other mental illnesses was certainly not available.

Anna Waring was 27 years old when she wrote these verses.  What were the dark clouds, storms and “low heart” she referred to in the words of this hymn?  History doesn’t tell us, but it seems clear that her life must have had its share of sorrow.  Yet her hopeful spirit shines through in this verse.  Over 160 years later her words live on, inspiring me and countless others to live in faith that better things lie ahead.


  1. Thanks for this much needed verse today. Hugs to you.

    • I’m so happy you like it! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

  2. Good Lord’s Day!! This is absolutely one of my favorite hymns, and as you say takes on an even deeper meaning when we are facing such trials. Thank you for your observations concerning how much more of an advantage we have living in this time, both medically and otherwise.
    Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!
    Love you much.

    • Hi Carla, thanks for your nice comment. It is sometimes hard for me to remember how fortunate we are to live in the time we do, despite the frustration that often goes with technology. So many things are getting better all the time. The advances in treatment for Jeff’s particular form of cancer are moving forward so rapidly that the prognosis is not quite as grim as it would have been even 10 years ago. I try to be grateful for everything good. It really is true that when we start counting our blessings, we run out of time to name them before we run out of things to be thankful for!

  3. Ellis Anderson

    I always loved this hymn too! Will sing it today, thinking of you! Thanks so much for taking on this project, despite all the other burdens you have on you. I think “Defeat Despair” will be affecting people for generations in the future – perhaps even 160 years from now…

    • Ellis, as always, your generous comments (and really, just hearing from you anytime) makes my day! Thanks so much for your encouragement – I can hear you singing in my mind! πŸ™‚

  4. Sheila

    Julia, the words and the photograph are such a perfect fit. You are sharing a God given talent to others everyday through your beautiful words and awesome pictures! Thank you for what it means to anticipate this everyday. A beautiful Sunday, Sheila

    • Thank you, Sheila. I always enjoy hearing from you; your comments are so encouraging! I’m so happy you enjoy the blog. Writing and taking photos are two things that I’ve been doing for years, simply because I cannot stop myself from doing them — so it’s a great bonus if someone else enjoys the result! Hope you have a wonderful week.

  5. Beth

    Julia, third row from the front on the left side at Greenbriar Church of Christ, I remember this as my favorite verse

    When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    when sorrows like sea billows roll;
    whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    I have to ask… Do you still sing ‘wring it out’? πŸ™‚

    Peace and prayer for yor family.

    • Beth, wonderful to hear from you! Yes, that is one of my very favorites too, and has grown even more special over the years. I had completely forgotten about “Wring it out” until you mentioned it, although I grew to love the song over the years and still sing it sometimes.Drew and I went back to Greenbriar on what happened to be their last Sunday in the old building we used to go to – it’s a very large, thriving, mostly African-American church now and they had outgrown the building and were moving to a much larger location off Camp Creek Pkwy I think. The Sunday we were there, they had chairs in all the aisles and people standing up in the back. It was wonderful to see! There were a few families there who still remembered our family (the Harrisons and the Cantys were there that Sunday, in case you remember either of them). Thanks so much for your prayers and for visiting us here!

  6. This post is so perfect for the let’s be wild theme of green, which ends tomorrow.
    i left off the www so it’s not flagged as spam.
    beautiful post! lisa/z

    • Thanks Lisa, I am new to blogging so unfamiliar with many of the theme weeks that I see others referring to. I will try to go there today and maybe post a link to this one if I can figure out how to do it! πŸ™‚


  1. Built in hope | Defeat Despair
  2. What you now have | Defeat Despair

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