Meditations for Troubled Times
The 18th century was a season of hymn-writing greatness with the likes of Wesley, Watts, Newton, and Cowper. But there was another English author whom the Lord gave as a gift to the church with her poetic skills, Anne Steele. Anne, the daughter of a Baptist minister in Broughton, struggled with poor health. However, her afflictions bore fruit in her beautiful reflections on suffering and the providence of God. One such reflection is the lesser-known hymn, “My God, My Father, Blissful Name.”
This particular poem expresses a resolve to receive all hardship as from the Father’s hand. It also recognizes, even as sorrows spill on our heads, that the greatest portion for a believer is not health, but our merciful Lord himself. Fear is brought into subjection as the eye of faith focuses on the Father’s goodness and wisdom. No hard thoughts are given room to breathe because earthly misery has not changed his tender mercy. Oh, that we all would believe that our Father reigns and the peace he gives us in Christ cannot be taken away! Anne writes:
My God, my Father, blissful name!
O may I call Thee mine?
May I with sweet assurance claim
A portion so divine?
This only can my fear control,
And bid my sorrows fly;
What harm can ever reach my soul
Beneath my Father’s eye?
Whate’er Thy providence denies
I calmly would resign,
For Thou are just, and good, and wise;
O bend my will to Thine.
Whate’er Thy sacred will ordains
O give me strength to bear;
And let me know my Father reigns,
And trust His tender care.
If pain and sickness rend this frame,
And life almost depart,
Is not Thy mercy still the same,
To cheer my drooping heart?
If cares and sorrows me surround,
Their power why should I fear?
My inward peace they cannot wound,
If Thou, my God, art near.