A love that will not fail
George Matheson was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1842. While still an infant he developed a serious eye infection. For seventeen years he waged a relentless battle for his sight but it was all in vain. He had scarcely begun his college career when darkness fell. He was destined to be blind for the rest of his life.
With indomitable courage, memorizing the assignments read to him, George Matheson continued his education. In 1861 he graduated from the University of Glasgow with honors and began to prepare himself for the Christian ministry.
His accomplishments as a minister in Glasgow and later in Edinburgh are almost unbelievable. Preparing and memorizing every sermon and address, he became a preacher of influence and power.
To many ministers who feel overworked, the daily schedule of George Matheson is a constant challenge. Throughout his life he continued his studies in French, German, science, history, philosophy and theology. He wrote and published a dozen books while handling the administrative responsibilities of his pastorate and a heavy program of preaching and pastoral calling.
What was George Matheson’s secret? What was the source of his strength and power, courage and daring? Perhaps the key is found in a poem he wrote. It was set to music and is one of the great hymns of the church to this day.
According to the story, George Matheson was in love with a beautiful young girl. When she learned of his impending blindness she decided it was a burden greater than she could share and broke off their engagement.
Heartbroken and alone, he sat down and penned the words expressing his deep confidence and trust in another love that would never fail:
O Love that will not let me
I rest my weary soul in
I give Thee back the life I
That in Thine ocean depths
May richer, fuller be.
This same unfailing love of God which sustained and kept George Matheson can be yours and mine. Listen again to God’s words of assurance: “I will never fail you nor forsake you.”
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.