Our lives are such beautiful gifts from God

Published 2:18 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

Last week, a small package arrived in the mail.  I knew from the return address that the package contained a paperback book I had ordered written by Ethel Waters, published in 1972.

One reason I ordered To Me It’s Wonderful is because the author had autographed the title page. The cursive letters read, “In His Precious Love, Ethel Waters.”

Years ago, I’d read her biography, so I knew some facts about her life.

It told of a young teen who conceived a child as a result of a sexual assault.

The baby, named Ethel, grew up in the slums of Philadelphia and neighboring cities.

Raised by her grandmother, she seldom lived anywhere more than a few weeks or mo-nths.  As a young girl, Ethel began singing in her church and performed for the first time during an amateur night at a Philadelphia club on her 15th birthday.

Ethel Waters went on to act and sing in Vaudeville, in movies, and on television shows.  Her biography says she became the first African-American star of a national radio show.  She was the second African-American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award.

And to think that Ethel was the result of an unplanned pregnancy!

Later in her life, she recorded several albums of Gospel music, including her favorite hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

Ethel Waters sang that hymn at numerous Billy Graham Crusades.  I can still hear her voice when I think of the words of that hymn.

Every life, both born and unborn, is a precious gift.  The Bible says human beings bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28).  From conception to natural death, we bear the autograph of God on our lives.

And, where there is life, there is hope!

Consider the hymn writer Civilla Martin who penned these words, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free; For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”

Mrs. Martin and her husband had visited a crippled man in a wheelchair whose wife had been bedridden for 20 years.

The invalid couple inspired all who knew them because of their happiness, in spite of their afflictions.

Mr. Martin asked them the source of their hope-filled lives; to which the crippled man replied, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

His answer inspired Civilla Martin to write the well-known hymn that many people have sung through the years.

For the past 43 years, human life has lost more and more of its value in our society.

In America, we can legally end the life of the unborn, resulting in 57 million lives lost.

In recent years, five states have approved assisted suicide.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey once said, “… the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

We must speak up for life!  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


– Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com.