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Fanny Crosby

The old-time hymn writer Fanny Crosby had that choice to make. I’m sure when she learned that her sightless world was the result of a doctor’s foolish mistake, she was forced to deal with wondering “what might have been.” The hot compresses her physician had employed to cure her eye infection at six weeks of age had only succeeded in scarring sensitive tissue. His act had rendered her permanently blind.

Few of us know what it’s like not to see–not being able to describe the color yellow, or distinguish a loved one’s face in the crowd, or navigate a city block or street crossing simply by spotting obstacles and watching the traffic. What if even the simplest tasks of pouring your breakfast cereal, or counting change, or sorting the laundry required the intently focused attention of your hearing and touch? We forget to be thankful for the blessing of sight.

Yet Fanny Crosby, writer of more than eight thousand hymns, enough to fill fifteen complete hymnals stacked one on top of the other, enough to cause her publishers to resort to ascribing to her multiple pen names to make her output seem more believable, saw things another way. She was thankful for the blessing of blindness. At eight years of age, she composed this bit of verse, a poem not all that mature in grammar perhaps, but likely more mature than some of us ever become, even in old age:
Oh, what a happy child I am, although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world contented I will be, How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t, So weep or sigh because I’m blind, I cannot–nor I won’t.

Imagine being able to say, as Fanny Crosby did, “I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that would have been presented to my notice.” As she wrote in her autobiography, “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation” (italics added). “I thank Him.” For blindness.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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