As the life of the blind Fanny Crosby is remembered, there are so many practical lessons that can be learned to comfort and encourage the people of God. Consider the following.

First, human extremities become God’s opportunity to manifest His power and glory, but not always in a way that can be anticipated. The blindness of Fanny became the source of blessing to millions. Her blindness was controlled by her Sovereign Creator.

“And the Lord said unto him [Moses], Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11). More than one person has observed that God is not looking for people with ability but people with availability. Realizing this Fanny wrote,

I am Thine, O Lord,
I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer,
nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.

Draw me nearer, nearer,
nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Second, the hopes and desires of the human heart do not always match up with the secret will of God which is why God is to be trusted. He does all things well.

“Trust not the path before thee,
O wand’rer, cease to roam!
The vail of night hangs o’er thee,
Oh, thou art far from home.

Turn unto me, turn unto me!
Hark! ‘tis the blessed One pleading with thee;
Turn unto Me, turn unto Me,
Turn thou, My child, unto Me.

True faith is found in submitting to the will of the Father, not trying to tell Him what to do.

Through many trials and tribulations Fanny learned something very simple. For those who trust, God will take care of you.

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

Third, young people can be spiritually mature beyond their years. Though Fanny did not believe herself fully converted to Christ until she was thirty years of age, her heart was always tender towards the Lord and spiritual matters. Let us do all that is within our power to bring children to Christ. Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).

Fourth, the words we speak to others can scar them or inspire them for life. Fanny never forgot the few encouraging words of Mr. William Cullen Bryant, the respected romantic poet and important newspaper editor who took the time to single out a blind girl one day and tell her she too had the soul of a poet.

“Encourage others whenever you can, Fanny,” he said to her, and she never forgot.  

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you” (William Arthur Ward).

Fifth no matter what spiritual gift God has given to you, you are to seek opportunities to witness for the Lord on a personal basis.  “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).

At the age of 60, Fanny began a new career as a home mission worker, working down in an area of New York City known one time as the Bowery, where many alcoholics and homeless gathered.

Fanny spent time in the Bowery. She worked several days each week at a mission there, which leads to the story how she came to write one of her greatest hymns.

A young man came into a service and sat down in front of her. First, she prayed quietly, and then she began to speak to him.

“Are you fond of Music?” she asked.


“Would you like to stay for our evening service?”


“Well,” said Fanny cheerfully, “Will you allow me to come and sit down by you and talk to you?”

“Yes, I would like to have you.”

Fanny spoke for a long time to the rough, bedraggled man on subjects that interested him. Finally, she said,

“Do you know what the three sweetest words are in any language?”

“No, will you tell me?”

Fanny replied,

“Mother, home, and heaven.”

The man was quiet for a long time, lost in thought. Finally, he said softly,

“My mother was a Christian.”

He stayed for the service, and at the close of the meeting went to the altar, but not until Fanny promised to go with him.

While she was riding home, these lines came to her heart.

Rescue the perishing,
care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin
and the grave;

Weep o’er the erring one,
lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus,
the mighty to save.

Rescue the perishing,
care for the dying,
Jesus is merciful,
Jesus will save.

Before retiring that evening, Fanny dictated the words to a friend. The next morning, she sent them to Mr. William H. Doane, who composed the tune.

Sixth, cultivate a sense of humor. By all accounts, Fanny Crosby had a quick wit and a keen sense of human. One day a mayoral candidate for the city of New York visited the Institute for the Blind to speak to Fanny, who was a local celebrity. While Fanny was giving the mayoral a tour of the facilities, he asked how a blind person manages to eat. Without a moment’s hesitation Fanny said, “We take a string and tie one end to the table leg, and then tie the other end to our tongue. Then we proceed to work the spoon up the string until the food reaches our mouth.” 

Seventh, give generously to the work of the Lord. As a devout Methodist, Fanny would know the counsel of John Wesley regarding money. Said Wesley, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” Fanny never received more than four dollars for each of her poems. Most of the revenue she did receive was given away to individuals and organizations she felt needed help. When she died, the estate of Fanny Crosby was valued at about two thousand dollars. She had given not only her life, but her wealth to advance the gospel of redeeming grace.

Eighth, study to have a sound evangelical theology. The theology of all the hymns which Fanny Crosby wrote is uniformly evangelical. Fanny believed that individuals are sinful and in need of salvation. In her poetry, Fanny magnifies the love of God, the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. “The central truth of her message in song is that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Thus, her songs form an appropriate atmosphere for evangelistic preaching: they produce conviction of sin and conversion. Of their far-reaching influence, only eternity can give the details” (Woodman Bradbury).

Francis Jane Crosby is a woman to admire, and to emulate.

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