The composer lay down his baton at the conclusion of what he believed would be his last performance. At 56, he’d already suffered a stroke which temporarily paralyzed his right arm. His life had been marked by an endless string of financial failures from which even his formidable talent had been unable to rescue him. In 1741, in England, that usually meant confinement to debtors’ prison.
But then, two seemingly small events converged which would change his life. He received a libretto from a friend based on the life of Christ, and a commission from a charity to compose music for a benefit performance. He worked feverishly, hardly eating or sleeping but rapturously lost in a creative ecstasy, known only to masters such as himself. In only three weeks, his masterpiece was complete. His name—George Frideric Handel. The masterpiece—his celebrated oratorio Messiah, a triumph of musical genius that still enjoys a place of honor amongst Christmas and Easter performances over 250 years later. The house in London where he composed the work is now a museum dedicated to him. And ironically, the first charity performances of Messiah provided funds for dozens of people to be released from debtors’ prison.
History is replete with the triumphs of men and women that were preceded by what appeared to be their darkest hour. I have often wondered why the adversary tries so hard to discourage us in our righteous endeavors. Surely he must know that God’s power is monumentally greater than his. Surely he knows he cannot succeed. Or does he?
No, the adversary actually does not know the big picture. He believes that our darkest hours really can be our end result, not a temporary darkness that precedes a breaking dawn of hope and success. Only God knows what great blessings are in store for us. Only He sees the richest blessings yet hidden from our view. His plans cannot be thwarted, but He needs us to trust Him and know that all will be well, that, as a well-known hymn says, morning will break and the shadows will flee.
Shelly Greenhalgh-Davis is the author of two published historical fiction novels, Eagle Shadow and Eagle Rising. You can visit her at www.shellygreenhalghdavis.com