A brilliant student, Eliza Hewitt was the class valedictorian when she graduated from Girls’ Normal School in Philadelphia. Her high school trained young ladies to become teachers upon graduation. Thus, Miss Hewitt became a public school teacher in the town where she was born and lived her entire life.
A short time later, however, Miss Hewitt had to leave teaching due to a spinal injury. The common understanding was that the injury resulted while she was disciplining a student. The unruly boy struck her back with a heavy slate! The painful blow severely injured her back. Bedridden due to the pain, she could no longer do the normal, everyday things she had enjoyed.
During those months of suffering following the injury, Miss Hewitt spent much time with God in prayer and in His Word. She desired to express to others her special relationship with Him. As a result, she began writing poems for children and for Sunday School resources. When the heavy, restrictive cast required for her recovery was removed, she is said to have written the hymn “There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today”! Miss Hewitt found that, in her time of suffering and rehabilitation, God used something grievous to bring forth blessing in her life. How excited she was to tell others!
Miss Hewitt wrote many other hymns, including “Will There Be Any Stars in My Crown?” “Stepping in the Light,” and “When We All Get to Heaven.” Although the severity of her injury prevented her from ever teaching school again, once recovered, she continued her Sunday School involvement and ministry in a local orphanage.
Her hymn, “More About Jesus,” speaks of a deep longing to know more about our Lord Jesus and to understand more of His ways:
More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.
Even though Miss Hewitt’s spinal injury took her from the job she had trained for, the months of pain and deprivation served a greater purpose. If she had merely become angry and bitter, God could not have used her as effectively. But because she discerned that He had a plan for her life and sought Him during her difficulty, God was able to reach more people through her hymns than she could have reached in her classroom!
When we encounter unexpected or grievous situations as Miss Hewitt did, and we can’t understand “why” with our human senses, we need to ask God to enable us to view things from His perspective. As we draw closer to Jesus and seek to know Him more, God will enable us to understand His purposes and why things happen.