The years of Mr. Cornelius’s life were dotted with difficulties. He learned the trade of bricklaying and became a building contractor in Pittsburgh. Then, an injury on the job site led to the amputation of his leg, and he saw the need to change his occupation. He went to college and became a minister of the gospel, but was forced to leave his first church in Pennsylvania due to his wife’s severe and protracted illness.
He moved to California and built a large new church there, but many who had promised to fund the project failed in business, and he was left to cover much of the cost himself. Maxwell Newton Cornelius did so, but shortly afterward his wife died. He conducted the memorial service himself, quoting the lines of what is likely the only hymn from his pen, Sometime We’ll Understand.
The song provides a wonderful statement of faith in God that looks beyond the trials of today and rests in God’s wisdom. Even when we cannot explain why something has happened we can trust in the goodness of God (Rom. 8:28). What is so often a mystery here, God’s purpose in our trials, will be made clear one day.
Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, some time, we’ll understand.
Then trust in God through all the days;
Fear not, for He doth hold thy hand;
Though dark thy way, still sing and praise,
Some time, some time we’ll understand.
God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, up there, we’ll understand.
(2) More from Oswald Smith – Then Jesus Came
Evangelist and creationist Dr. Harry Rimmer was preaching on John chapter 11. He pictured the sorrow that darkened the home, and the sadness of Mary and Martha, when their brother Lazarus died. Suddenly, he paused, and shouted triumphantly, “Then Jesus came!”
Sitting in the audience that evening was gospel musician Homer Rodeheaver. The phrase struck him as a great theme for a song. Shortly after, he was visiting with pastor and hymn writer Oswald Smith. It was May of 1939. The musician said, “I want a hymn depicting the change that took place in the lives of men and women when Jesus came. Dr. Smith provided the text, and Rodeheaver set it to music.
One sat alone beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see;
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows,
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.
When Jesus comes, the tempter’s pow’r is broken;
When Jesus comes, the tears are wiped away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.
The song became an oft-repeated solo of George Beverly Shea’s. If you can find it on YouTube, you may be impressed, as I have been, with not only his technical mastery of singing technique, but his ability to present a message in song in a sincere and unaffected way. Missing are the frequent theatrical grimaces and the posturing that are the bad habit of many contemporary gospel singers.