O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Trusting God’s Love

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6.

Do you ever look at your old high school yearbook and wonder what has happened to your former classmates? George Matheson, a brilliant student, could have been voted “most likely to succeed” by his high school class except for one thing: he had poor vision. In fact by the time he was eighteen, he was almost totally blind.

He was able to attend college because his sister learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew so she could help him. Matheson then became a pastor. Because he was able to memorize sermons and large passages of Scripture, many listeners did not realize that he was blind. And his sister helped him with his duties at the church for many years.

But when he was forty, his sister got married. Home alone on the night of the wedding, he was overcome by sadness. Not only was he losing the help of his sister, but “something had happened to me,” he said, “which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering.”*

As sometimes happens in moments of intense suffering, the Lord gave Matheson a poem that became the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.” I can picture him in his dark world—darkness within and without—writing this hymn full of images. The third stanza contains my favorite image, which describes the promise of the rainbow:

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 gave Noah the rainbow as a symbol of the promise that He would not flood the entire world again. When we see a rainbow, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness. He keeps His promises.

Matheson described his life as obstructed and circumscribed, “but a life of quenchless hopefulness.” He is an inspiration to anyone who has a severe handicap or who has experienced intense emotional or physical pain. Do you know that God loves us with a love that will not let us go no matter what we’re going through?

DIG DEEPER:
  • Read Genesis 9:8-17. God gave Noah the rainbow as a sign of promise. Who else was included in the promise? What promises has God made to you?
  • Read Romans 8:35-39. What can separate us from God’s love? Does that include the foolish things we do?  Do you feel separated from God this week?  What is making you feel that way?

 Nancy J. Baker

*quoted in Fifty People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren Wiersbe. Baker Books, 2009, p. 197

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