I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’m the only person in the world who reads through back issues of the Ann Arbor Baptist, a periodical from the late 1800s. But periodicals like that were the blogs of their era and within their pages I find such interesting articles and poems. One that I spotted recently (though I’ve spotted it in other works as well, sometimes adapted into a hymn) is Mary Brainard’s “I Know Not What Shall Befall Me,” a poem of trust in God’s character and his providence. It is well worth a read—aloud, of course, as poems are meant to be read.
I know not what shall befall me,
God hangs a mist o’er my eyes,
And each step in my onward path
He makes new scenes to rise,
And every joy He sends to me
Comes as a sweet surprise.
I see not a step before me
As I tread on another year,
But the past is still in God’s keeping,
The future His mercy shall clear,
And what looks dark in the distance
May brighten as I draw near.
For perhaps the dreaded future
Has less bitter than I think;
The Lord may sweeten the waters
Before I stoop to drink;
Or, if Marah must be Marah,
He will stand beside its brink.
It may be He has, waiting
For the coming of my feet,
Some gift of such rare value,
Some joy so strangely sweet,
That my lips shall only tremble
With the thanks they cannot speak.
O, restful blissful ignorance!
’Tis blessed not to know:
It keeps me still in those arms
Which will not let me go,
And hushes my soul to rest
In the bosom that loved me so!
So I go on—not knowing;
I would not if I might,
Rather walking with God in the dark
Than going alone in the light;
Rather walking with Him by faith
Than walking alone by sight.
My heart shrinks back from trials
Which the future may disclose,
Yet I never had a sorrow
But what the dear Lord chose;
So I send the coming tears back
With the whispered word, “He knows!”
(It’s also fun to come across old advertisements like this one, which you find in the old periodicals. Between you and me, I kind of think this cure is over-promising…)