“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). (NKJV)
Born in Putnam County, New York, Fanny Crosby became ill within two months. Unfortunately, the family doctor was away, and another man—pretending to be a certified doctor—treated her by prescribing hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes. Her illness eventually relented, but the treatment left her blind. When the doctor was revealed to be a quack, he disappeared. A few months later, Crosby’s father died. Her mother was forced to find work as a maid to support the family, and Fanny was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother.
While she enjoyed her poetry, she zealously memorized the Bible. Memorizing five chapters a week, even as a child she could recite the Pentateuch, the Gospels, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many psalms chapter and verse.
Fanny’s love of Scripture was attributed to her grandmother who cared for Fanny while her mother worked, following the death of Fanny’s father, just six months after being blinded. The faithfulness of Fanny’s Christian grandmother laid a strong foundation of faith in Christ.
Her mother’s hard work paid off. Shortly before her fifteenth birthday, Crosby was sent to the recently founded New York Institute for the Blind, which would be her home for 23 years: 12 as a student, 11 as a teacher. She initially indulged in her own poetry and was called upon to pen verses for various occasions. In time the principal asked her to avoid such “distractions” in favor of her general instruction. “We have no right to be vain in the presence of the Owner and Creator of all things,” he said.
Her love of poetry began early—her first verse, written at age 8, echoed her lifelong refusal to feel sorry for herself:
Oh, what a happy soul 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, To weep and sigh because I’m blind I cannot, and I won’t!”
Francis Jane Crosby went on to write more than 9,000 hymns, some of which are among the most popular in every Christian denomination. She wrote so many that she was forced to use pen names lest the hymnals be filled with her name above all others. And, for many people, the most remarkable thing about her was that she had done so in spite of her blindness.
“I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,” remarked one well-meaning preacher.
Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”
Holding His Hand
Rather than feeling sorry for herself, Fannie Crosby chose to walk by faith in Christ, not by sight. When we place our trust in the hands of the Savior, we can rest fully upon His guidance without fail. Yes, there will be times when we stumble and fall because we live in a broken world. Crises come, failure is inevitable, unfair and unkind words wound deeply, and yet, the Saving grace of Jesus tenderly walks us through times of darkness and bewilderment.
Listen to All the Way My Savior Leads Me, Written by Fannie Crosby. Sung by The Haven Quartet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEOtFEs0Jos
Philippians 4:11-13, (NIV)
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Francis Jane Crosby (Fanny Crosby) — Excerpt from Christianity Today (Christian History, People) http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/poets/fanny-crosby.html