Carolyn Wood’s Devotional
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
..but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Annie Johnson Flint was born on Christmas Eve, 1866, in the little town of Vineland, New Jersey. Her parents, Eldon and Jean Johnson, welcome that Christmas present as the greatest earthy gift.
The only remembrance of her mother dates back to the time just before her mother’s death in 1869 (at the age of twenty-three) following the birth of a baby sister for Annie. The baby was left for life-long companionship. Her father remarried and the girls were unwelcome in the new wife’s home as she had two daughters of her own and very little money. They soon were adopted by a loving couple, the Flints. Annie’s father was terminally ill and wanted a home for the girls where they would know kindness and could follow a life of faith. The Flints were Baptists, which suited him. Later Annie was converted in a Methodist revival meeting and many of her most intimate friends were connect with those churches. Then as the years rolled by she was helped by men and women in many branches of the evangelical church, and in return she herself became God’s channel of blessing to that wider fellowship. She looked upon that “household of faith” as really one great family, with one faith, one Lord, one baptism, working under one Divine Spirit, having one Master over all.
After finishing high school she spent one year at normal school and had a position offered to her. It was a great temptation to begin earning money. But, as her mother’s health was failing, and already had had one slight stroke, she felt that she was needed at home, so she started teaching the primary class in the same school that she had attended as a girl. According to her contract with the normal school she taught for three years, though early in the second year arthritis began to show itself. She tried several doctors in turn, but it steadily grew worse until it became difficult for her to walk at all, and she had a hard time finishing out the third year. After that she was forced to give up her work and there followed three years of increasing helplessness.
The death of both her adopted parents within a few months of each other left the two girls alone again. A friend was convinced that Annie could be helped at a sanitarium (hospital) in Clifton Springs, New York, and sent her there for evaluation. The trip was to no avail and Annie returned, her condition unchanged. In after years she always stated that her poems were born of the need of others and not from her own need; but one knows full well that she never could have written as she did for the comfort and help of thousand of others if she had not had the background of facing those very crises in her own life.
Annie became convinced that God intended to glorify himself through her, in her weak, earthen vessel, and like Paul she had three times and more prayed that this might be taken from her, there came to her the real assurance the promise which said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” She reached the place where she could also say with Paul, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Annie decided that there was to be “no moaning of the bar when (she) put out to sea.” The last years of her life brought her no ease from her affliction, no lessening of pain and suffering. Yet, it is thought that in those closing years she really exemplified more than ever some of the sweetness of her earlier verses.
In Annie’s own notes, her affliction receives little notice. She would have it so. Although crippled from rheumatoid arthritis, she did not consider herself helpless and that she could do nothing but bemoan her lot. She believed that God laid her aside for a purpose, even though that purpose was obscure to her at times, but she also believed that He had work for her to do and she put her very best into the writing of her poems, rendering this ministry unto Him. The result has been that her verses have an unusually deep appeal to human hearts. The simple reason is that she felt what she wrote, and out of the crucible of suffering she was able to administer that comfort to others as she herself had been comforted by God.
No one but God and Annie knew what suffering she endured as the disease became worse with the passing of the years, and new complications developed. But through it all her faith in the goodness and mercy of God never wavered. There were many times, no doubt, when her soul would be burdened with the mystery of it all and the why and wherefore of the thing that she was called to endure. In that respect she was most human like the rest of us, but the marvelous thing is that her faith never faltered, and that she was at all times able to say “Thy will be done.” For more than forty years there was scarcely a day when she did not suffer pain. For thirty-seven years she became increasingly helpless. Her joints had become rigid, although she was able to turn her head, and in great pain write a few lines on paper. But long before these years of helplessness she had received her one great affirmation from God which settled all her doubts. Perhaps the shortest stanza which she wrote was upon the words, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen…”
I am convinced that each of us suffers pain of some description which at times can be crippling. Whether we suffer physical pain as both Annie and Paul the Apostle, or emotional pain, it can be a constant reminder that we “hurt”. Finding a way to deal with this pain can become a full time job if we let it. Annie met the challenge of turning that work into work for others and for God. As I have learned about Annie Johnson Flint, her situation brought to mind a few people that I have encountered in my life who followed her example and, in doing so, made a deep impression on me. My gratitude for these sainted souls is great and I am so very glad that Annie’s story has refreshed my memories and brought back the inspiration anew.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
1 Peter 1:6-8
The Living Stones Quartet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzhKGPireAA
Read by Brandon Meeks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f5Yl3iywdI