Hope beyond measure
“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.