Only One Life: How A Woman’s Every Day Shapes An Eternal Legacy

Day 5 of 7 • This day’s reading


Tenacity Through Gratitude

Fanny Crosby was born in 1820 in upstate New York to a family with a proud Puritan heritage and roots running back to the Mayflower pilgrims. She would grow up to be the most prolific writer of sacred songs the church has ever produced. To this day, evangelical hymnals are filled with her treasured songs. But her beginnings were troubled. 

When she was just six weeks old, Fanny got an infection that took her eyesight. Before her first birthday, her father died. Impoverished, her mother and grandmother were left with the task of providing for the family. To make things worse, they had to move frequently and often had to live with other people. 

Fanny’s “eyesight” became gratitude. She liked to say that a wonderful implication of her condition was that the first face she would ever behold would be that of her Savior when she entered heaven. So she counted herself fortunate. 

This unrelenting gratitude caused her to pursue God. She had a hunger for God’s Word. Around age ten, Fanny memorized five chapters of the Bible each week. By fifteen, she had memorized all four gospels, the five books of Moses, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, and many of the Psalms. 

Fanny was both thrilled and fascinated by the hymns she heard and sang at church, and at a very young age wondered if she might have the talent to write just one. As she began her efforts, she sensed God’s favor.

Many of Fanny Crosby’s most beloved hymns stand among the greatest anthems of the evangelical church. Her question of writing “just” one hymn was answered. In her long and fruitful life, she crafted nearly nine thousand of them, even though she did not begin writing hymns in earnest until her forties. 

Fanny faced her challenges with cheer and a positive attitude. That’s the power of Fanny Crosby’s legacy of tenacity. She chose to view her circumstances as a blessing God could use to His greater glory. She happily embraced the truth of Romans 8:28 and James 1:2–that God was working all things together for her good and that she could “count it all joy” in the face of the hardest trials.