Words: Maxwell Newton Cornelius (b. July 30, 1842; d. Mar. 31, 1893)
Music: James McGranahan (b. July 4, 1849; July 9, 1907)
Note: This lovely and thoughtful gospel song was written in 1891, with Major Daniel Whittle providing the words of the refrain–an important call to faith–and James McGranahan composing the tune.
The life of Maxwell Cornelius was visited by one tragedy after another. In his younger years, he worked in the construction trade, until a serious injury required the amputation of a leg. (Ira Sankey’s doctor assisted in the surgery.) Then, he trained for pastoral ministry, but in the early days of that his wife took seriously ill, and he resigned from his church. The couple moved to California–perhaps with the hope that it would ease the woman’s illness. There he accepted a pastoral call to another church.
Pastor Cornelius led the church in a large building program. However, the funds that had been promised to pay for this were not given, and the church incurred a huge debt. The pastor assumed the debt himself, and it took him several years to pay it off. Right after that, his wife died. He himself conducted her funeral, reciting the lines of Some Time We’ll Understand, which he had written for the occasion. Two years later the pastor himself died, at the relatively young age of fifty-one.
We each have trials and various challenges to face. But sometimes it seems as though a particular life is visited with much more than its share. However, we often do not know the whole story. That is, some folks may have difficulties that are hidden from view, burdens we know nothing about. And even when we do know, we’re unable to measure accurately the intensity of pain experienced by another person. It’s very subjective.
All of this being said, I’m confident that, in the light of heaven, believers will be able to see the trials of life more clearly from God’s perspective, and see what our wise and loving heavenly Father accomplished through them. The “why?” questions will be answered then. Though we aren’t given a lot of detail about it, there are clues in the Scriptures that life after the resurrection will have a continuity with the present one, to the extent that we’ll remember our previous experiences–though being delivered from the pain and tears of doing so by the gentle hand of God (Rev. 21:4).
This was the assurance of Job, a great saint of Old Testament times. Knowing nothing about the devil’s malicious involvement, he could not fathom why so many trials had suddenly come upon him. He only knew that he was just as faithful to God as he had been before disaster struck, so it simply could not be (as his friends declared) that the Lord must be punishing him for some great wickedness. If his questions could not be resolved now, if the rightness of his cause couldn’t be established now, then he would look forward to the resurrection, and the time when he would stand before his Redeemer. What could not be explained now would surely be made clear then (Job 19:25-27).
What are some clues that point to our remembrance of earthly things in heaven?
Certainly we’ll know our Saviour, and recognize what He did for us on earth (Rev. 5:9-10). We’ll sing together “the song of Moses [possibly Exodus 15]…and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3), so we’ll have to remember something of what happened to Moses and the people of Israel. The martyrs of the Tribulation will cry out for vengeance of those who caused their deaths on earth (Rev. 6:9-10). During His time on earth, Moses and Elijah met with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and discussed His coming death (Lk. 9:30-31). The rich man in Hades remembered his brothers and their spiritual need (Lk. 16:27-31).
CH-1) Not now, but in the coming years,
It may be in the better land,
We’ll read the meaning of our tears,
And there, sometime, 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,
Sometime, sometime we’ll understand.
CH-3) We’ll know why clouds instead of sun
Were over many a cherished plan;
Why song has ceased when scarce begun;
’Tis there, sometime, we’ll understand.
CH-4) God knows the way, He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Sometime with tearless eyes we’ll see;
Yes, there, up there, we’ll understand.
1) What suffering is there in your own life (or the life of someone you know) that seems to have no clear reason or object?
2) Have you (or the other person) been able to trust God with that, even if He never tells you, on this side of heaven, why it’s happened?