We face dark obstacles at times. We are as assailed on every hand, tried by difficult life circumstances. We sometimes find that our very soul is heavy with grief and loss. Yet our soul is unconquerable. We face life unafraid because of our faith in a protective and faithful God. When tribulation covers us, we know that we are also covered by God’s grace.
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.” – Psalm 57:1
And there we abide, under God’s wings. We strengthen one another with our stories, taking solace as we hear that others have survived their storms. We share both our joys and our sorrows, our hope and our descent into hopelessness. The stories give us courage and raise in us the will to move past whatever pain we suffer. One such story is that of William Ernest Henley.
At age twelve, Henley was diagnosed with tubercular arthritis that necessitated the amputation of one of his legs just below the knee. His other foot was saved only through a radical surgery. As he healed in the infirmary, Henley began to write poems, including “Invictus,” which concludes with the oft-referenced lines “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
I have been brought low in this life, too many times to count. I have fallen into the dust, barely able to pick myself up off the ground. But on this day as I stand tall, safe from the throes of pain and loss, I give thanks to God for my unconquerable soul. There may yet come a day of darkness for me. But what remains is a soul unconquerable.