The Ministry of Comfort
J. R. Miller, 1898
Glimpses of Immortality
Consciousness of immortality is a mighty motive in
life. If we think only of what lies in the little dusty circle about our
feet, we miss the glory for which we were made. But if we realize even dimly
the fact that we are immortal, a new meaning is given to every joy of our
life, to every hope of our heart, to every work of our hands.
The realization of this truth of immortality in our
personal consciousness, is partly at least a matter of education. We may
train ourselves to think of our life in its larger aspect. We may allow our
mind to dwell only on material things, and keep our eyes on the narrow patch
of earth on which we walk in our daily rounds. Or we may persist in lifting
our thoughts to things which are unseen and eternal. This really is most
important in the truest religious training and discipline, and we should
lose no opportunity to get glimpses of things which are imperishable.
A literary friend tells of an experience with an
optometrist. Her eyes were troubling her, and she asked him if she did not
need a pair of new glassed. He replied, after making an examination, that it
was rest which her eyes needed, not different lenses. She assured him
that this was an impossible prescription, telling him a little of what she
must do day by day. After a moment's thought, he asked her if she had not
some wide views from her windows. She replied enthusiastically that she had
– that from her front porch she could see the noble peaks of the Blue Ridge
and from her back window the glories of the Alleghany foothills. "That is
just what you need," said the oculist. "When your eyes get tired with your
reading or writing, go and stand at your back window or your front porch,
and look steadily at your mountains for five minutes—ten will be better.
This far look will rest your eyes."
The friend finds in this direction, a parable for her own
daily life. "Soul of mine," she says to herself, "are you tired of the
little treadmill round of care and worry, of the conflicts with evil, of the
struggles after holiness, of the harrowing grief of this world—tired of
today's dreary commonplaces? Then rest your spiritual eyes by getting a far
vision. Look up to the beauty of God's holiness. Look in upon the throngs of
the redeemed, waiting inside the gates. Look out upon the wider life which
stretches away illimitably."
It is such an outlook that the thought of immortality
gives to us. We live in our narrow sphere in this world, treading round and
round in the same little circle. Life's toils and tasks so fill our hands,
that we scarcely have time for a thought of anything else. Its secularities
and its struggles for bread, keep us ever bent down to the earth. The tears
of sorrow, dim our vision of God and of heaven. The dust and smoke of
earth's battles, hide the blue of heaven. We need continually to get far
looks to rest us, and to keep us in mind of the great world which stretches
away beyond our close horizons. The glimpses of eternity which flash upon us
as we read our Bible or look into Christ's face, tell us anew that we so
easily forget that we are immortal, that our life really has no horizon.
It is very inspiring to think of human life in this way,
as reaching out beyond what we call death—and into eternity. Dying is not
the end of our life—it is but an incident, a phase or process of living.
Dying is not a wall, cutting off our path—it is a gate,
through which we pass into larger fuller life. We say we have only three
score and ten years to live, and must plan only for hopes or efforts which
we can bring within this limit. But, really, we may make plans which will
require ten thousand years—for we shall never die.
Life is short, even at the longest. It is but a little
which we can do in our brief broken years. We begin things and we are
interrupted in the midst of them, before they are half finished. A thousand
breaks occur in our plans. We purpose to build something very beautiful, and
scarcely have we laid the foundation when we are called to something else,
or laid aside by illness, or our life ends and the work remains unfinished.
It is pathetic, when a busy man has been called away suddenly—for us to go
into his office or place of business or work, and see the unfinished tings
he has left—a letter half written, a book half read, a picture begun but not
completed. Life is full of mere fragments, mere beginnings of things.
If there is nothing beyond death, but little can come of
all this poor fragmentary living and doing. The assurance, however, that
life will go on without serious break, through endless years, puts a new
meaning into every noble and worthy beginning. The smallest things that we
start in this world will go on forever.
Paul tells us, at the close of his wonderful chapter on
the resurrection, that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. Beyond our
narrow horizon, a world of infinite largeness awaits us. Nothing done for
Christ shall fail or be in vain. All good things shall live forever. The
seeds we sow here which cannot come to harvest in earth's little years, will
have abundant time for ripening in the measureless after years. The slowest
ripening fruit will some day become mellow and luscious.
There is comfort in this for those whose life seems a
failure here—crushed like a trampled flower under the heel of wrong or
sin—broken and torn. There will be time enough in the immortal days for such
broken lives to grow into strength and loveliness. Think of living a
thousand years, a million years, in a world where there shall be no sin, no
struggle, no injustice, no failure—but where every influence shall be
inspiring and enriching; for in the immortal life all growth is towards
youth, not toward the decrepitude of age.
The truth of immortality gives us a vision also of
continued existence in love and blessedness, for those who have passed from
us and beyond our sight. We miss them and we ask a thousand questions about
them, yet get no answer from this world's wisdom. But looking through the
broken grave of Christ, as through a window we see green fields on the other
side, and amid the gladness and the joy we catch glimpses of the dear faces
which we miss from the earthly circle. The New Testament shows us Jesus
Himself beyond death, and He was not changed. He had the same gentle heart.
He had not forgotten His friends. Thus it is that looking through the window
of Christ's rent tomb—we have a vision of life as immortal and in the truth
of immortality we find boundless inspiration, comfort for every sorrow, and
gain for every loss.
Why Trouble Comes
There is always a mystery in sorrow. We never can
understand for certain, why it comes to us. We cannot but ask questions when
we find ourselves in the midst of trouble. But many of our questions must
remain unanswered until earth's dim light becomes full and clear in heaven's
glory. "What I do—you cannot now understand," said the Master; "but you
shall understand hereafter."
Some godly people make the mistake of supposing, when any
trouble comes upon them, that they have displeased God in some way and that
He is punishing them for it. This was the thought in the minds of the
disciples, when they asked the Master for whose sin, his own or his
parent's, a certain man had been born blind. Jesus answered that the
blindness had been sent for no one's sin—but for an occasion of good and
blessing, for an opportunity of revealing the mercy and gentleness of God.
When we have sorrow or suffering, our question should not be, "What have I
done that God is punishing me for?" but, "What is the mission of this
messenger of God to me?"
If we would always greet pain or trouble in this way,
with welcome, reverently, in Christ's name—we would be in an attitude
for receiving whatever blessing or good God has sent to us in it. There is
no doubt that whatever trouble comes to us—that it comes from God on an
errand of love. It is not some chance thing breaking into our life,
without purpose, without intention. It is a messenger from God, and brings
blessings to us. Our trouble is God's gift to us. No matter what it
may be—duty, responsibility, struggle, pain, unrequited service, unjust
treatment, hard conditions—it is that which God has given to us. No
matter through whose fault or sin it may have come to us, when the trouble
is ours—we may say it is a gift of God to us. Then being a gift from God, we
may be sure that it has in it a divine blessing. As it comes to us, it may
have a stern aspect, may seem unkindly, even cruel—but folded up in its
forbidding form, it carries some treasure of mercy.
It is easy to find illustrations of this truth. The
world's greatest blessings have come out of its greatest sorrows. Said
Goethe, "I never had an affliction which did not turn into a poem." No doubt
the best music and poetry in all literature had a like origin, if we could
know its whole story. It is universally true that poets "learn in suffering
what they teach in song." Nothing really worth while in life's lessons,
comes easily without pain and cost.
Readers who find in certain books of Christian experience
words which are bread to their spiritual hunger, which cheer and strengthen
them, which shine like lamps on their darkness, showing them the way, do not
know what it cost the writer to prepare these words, how he suffered,
struggled and endured, in order that he might learn to write the sentences
which are so full of helpfulness. This is one of the rewards of
suffering—the power to light the way for other sufferers.
Many of the beneficences which have brought greatest good
to the world have been the fruit of a bitter sorrow or a loss which seemed
overwhelming. When Dr. Moon of Brighton was at the very ripeness of his
powers and the summit of his achievements, he became totally blind. It
seemed a terrible calamity that a man so brilliant, fitted to be so helpful
to humanity, should have his career of usefulness thus ruthlessly ended. For
a time his heart was full of rebellious thoughts; he could not and would not
submit. He could see no possible goodness, nothing but unqualified
misfortune, in the darkening of his eyes which had put an end to his career
among men. But in his darkness, he began to think of others who were blind
and to ponder the question whether there might not be some way by which they
could be enabled to read. The outcome of his thought was the invention of
the alphabet for the blind, which is now used in nearly every country and in
every language, by means of which three or four million of blind in all
parts of the world can read the Bible and other books. Was it not worth
while for one man's eyes to be darkened, in order that such a blessing might
be given to the blind of all lands?
In personal experience, too, countless of life's sweetest
blessings and joys are born of sorrows. For many a man the things of earth
on which he has set his heart are blighted, that his affections may be
lifted to things heavenly and eternal. There are many who never saw
Christ—until the light of some tender human beauty faded before their eyes,
when, looking up in the darkness, they beheld that blessed Face beaming its
love upon them.
A writer tells of a little bird which would not learn to
sing the song its master would have it sing, while its cage was full of
light. It listened and learned a snatch of this, a trill of that, a polyglot
of all the songs of the grove—but never a separate and entire melody of its
own. Then the master covered its cage and made it dark; and now it
listened—and listened to the one song it was to learn to sing, and tried and
tried and tried again until at last its heart was full of it. Then, when it
had caught the melody, the cage was uncovered and it sang the song sweetly
ever after in the light.
As it was with the bird, so it is with many of us, God's
children. The Master has a song He wished to teach us—but we will not learn
it. All about us earth's music is thrilling, and we get but a note here and
there of the holy strain that is set for us. Then the Master makes it dark
about us, calling us aside to suffer, and now we give heed to the sweet song
He would teach us—until we can sing it through to the end. Then when we have
once learned it in darkness, we go out into the light and sing it wherever
When we think thus of troubles, as bearers of God's
best blessings to us, they begin to wear a more helpful aspect to our
thought. They come not to us lawlessly, breaking into our life with their
loss, anguish, and terror—without God's permission. They do not come laden
with hurt and marring, for us. They come as God's servants, and they bear in
their hands divine blessings. They come not as avenging messengers to
inflict punishment—but as angels of love to chasten us, perhaps to
cure us of follies and sins, to lead us nearer to God, to bring out in us
more beauty of Christ. No trouble of any kind ever comes to us—but it brings
us something which will be a blessing to us, if only we will accept it.
But we must receive these divine messengers reverently,
with hospitable welcome, as of old men received and entertained angels who
came to their doors. Too often sorrow's gifts are not accepted, the
messengers are not welcomed, and they can only turn and bear away again the
blessing which they had brought in love—but which we would not take.
It is a serious thing to have troubles come to us, and
not be graciously welcomed by us. We turn Christ Himself from our doors when
we refuse to admit what He sends to us, though it be a sorrow or a loss. We
thrust away heavenly treasures, shutting our heart against them. The only
true way to deal with trouble—is to open our door to it as coming from God
on an errand of love, its hands filled with priceless gifts for our true
God disciplines us for our good
"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they
thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share
in his holiness." Hebrews 12:10
Affliction is not accidental. It does not break
wildly and lawlessly into our life. No matter what its immediate cause or
source—it is under God's direction. There is no 'chance' in
the universe. This is our Father's world, and all things and all events are
under His control. We need not fret ourselves over scientific laws or the
inferences from them, for God is greater than His own creation and is never
hindered in His purposes of love by the outworking of the laws He has
established, which in any case are but His ways of working. Jesus spoke of
the terrible cruelty and wrong which culminated in His death on a cross as
"the cup which My Father has given Me."
It is comforting to think of trouble, in whatever form it
may come to us—as a heavenly messenger, bringing us some blessing from God.
In its earthly aspect it may seem hurtful, even destructive; but in its
spiritual outworking, it yields blessing.
Take the matter of chastening. It is always
painful—but we know that the object of our Father is our good, the
correction in us of things that are wrong, and the bringing out in us of
qualities of divine beauty, which otherwise would not be developed. The
writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews puts it very plainly in a remarkable
passage. He reminds us that we are God's sons, and exhorts us not to regard
lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor to faint when we are reproved by
Him: "The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he
accepts as a son . . . God deals with you as with sons."
Referring to our acceptance of the chastening of earthly
parents, he says: "We have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we
respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our
spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they
thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his
holiness." The wisest and most loving earthy father may not always chasten
either wisely or lovingly—but whatever chastening our heavenly
Father may minister to us, we know that He has in mind only our good, our
profit. Then follow these words which interpret for us the purpose of all
the trials that God sends into our life: "No discipline seems pleasant at
the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of
righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
The teaching is clear and positive. Painful in the human
experience as it must always be, we know that in its outcome, chastening
always works good. We do not know how much we owe to suffering. Many of
the richest blessings which have come down to us from the past, are the
fruit of sorrow or pain. Others sowed in tears—and we gather the harvest in
joy. We should never forget that redemption, the world's greatest
blessing—is the fruit of the world's greatest sorrow. In our own
personal life, it is true that in all chastening our Father's design is our
profit, and that suffering rightly endured, yields the fruit of
"He prunes every branch that produces fruit—so that it
will produce more fruit." John 15:2. Take the process of pruning—the
figure which our Lord Himself uses. The gardener prunes the branches—but not
without wise purpose. The Master's words, referring to this process in
spiritual husbandry, are rich in their comfort for those on whom the
knife is doing its painful work.
For one thing, we are told that the Father is the
gardener. We know that our Father loves us and would never do anything
unloving or hurtful. We know that He is infinitely wise, that He looks far
on in our life, planning the largest and the best good for us, not for today
only—but for all the future, and that what He does is certainly the best
that could be devised. In every time of sharp pruning, when the knife
cuts deep and the pain is sore, it is an unspeakable comfort to read, "My
Father is the gardener."
Another inspiring thought in all such experience, is that
it is the fruitful branch which the Father prunes. Sometimes godly
people say when they are led through great trials, "Surely God does not love
me, or He would not so sorely afflict me." But it takes away all the
distressing thoughts about our trouble, to read the Master's words, "He
prunes every branch that produces fruit." It is not punishment to
which we are subjected—but pruning, and it is because we are fruitful
that we are pruned.
Still another comfort here is revealed in the object of
the pruning—"He prunes every branch that produces fruit—so that it will
produce more fruit." The one object of all God's pruning, is
fruitfulness. The figure of pruning helps us to understand this. When one
who knows nothing of such processes sees a man cutting away branch after
branch of a tree or vine, it would seem to him that the work is destructive.
But those who understand the object of the pruning—know that what the
gardener is doing, will add to the vine's value and to its ultimate
Dr. Marvin R. Vincent tells of being in a great hothouse
where luscious clusters of grapes were hanging on every side. The owner
said, "When my new gardener came he said he would have nothing to do with
these vines unless he could cut them clean down to the stalk; and he did,
and we had no grapes for two years—but this is the result." There is rich
suggestiveness in this interpretation of the pruning process as we apply it
to Christian life. Pruning seems to be destroying the vine. The gardener
appears to be cutting it all away. But he looks on into the future and knows
that the final outcome will be the enrichment of its life and greater
abundance of fruit.
There is another Scripture teaching which many Christians
seem to forget in time of trial. It is this—that every trouble which comes
into the life of a believer, enfolds in its dark form, some gift from God.
There are blessings which it would seem can be given only in pain and
earthly loss, and lessons which can be learned only in suffering. There are
heavenly songs we can never learn to sing while we are enjoying earth's
ease. We can be trained for gentle ministry only in the school of loss
and trial. In our short-sightedness we dread the hard things of life and
would thrust away the bitter cups. If only we knew it, these unwelcome
experiences bring to us rich gifts and benefits. There are blessings we
never can have, unless we are ready to pay the price of pain. There is no
other way to reach them—but through suffering.
There is a quite common misconception regarding
answers to prayer, a misconception which would be corrected if we
understood better the meaning of trouble as it comes into our life.
In our time of suffering or sorrow, we cry to God for relief, asking Him to
take away that which is so hard for us to endure. We do not remember that
this very trial is a messenger of good from God to us. When we ask our
Father to free us from the painful experience, we do not realize that we are
really asking Him to recall an angel of mercy who has come with rich
gifts in his hands for us.
What should our prayer be in such a case? There is no
harm in our asking even earnestly and importunately that the suffering may
pass—but we should always ask reverently, leaving it to God to decide what
is best. Then the prayer should be, that if the trouble is not taken away we
may be strengthened to endure it—and may not fail to receive its blessing.
This is the promise, indeed, which is made. We are not told that God
will either remove our burden or carry it for us. If there is a blessing in
it for us, it would not be a kindness to lift it off. The assurance is,
however, that He will sustain us as we bear our load.
This may disappoint some who turn to God with their
trouble, thinking only of relief from it. But when we remember that God has
a design in the trouble, a loving purpose, we know we cannot afford to lose
it. To be freed from it would be to miss the good which is in it for us. We
grow best under weights. So in love and wisdom God leaves the load on
our shoulder that we may still carry it and get through it the gift which He
sends us in it. He then gives us strength to bear it—strengthens us under
We have the same teaching in the word "comfort" itself,
whose meaning is ofttimes greatly misunderstood. Many people looking for
comfort in sorrow, expect that the bitter cup will be taken away or at least
that its bitterness will be alleviated. But the word comfort is from a root
which means to strengthen. Hence it contains no promise that in any
way the burden will be made lighter, or the grief less poignant. God
comforts us—by giving us strength to endure our trial. For example, when we
turn to Him in bereavement, He does not restore our beloved, nor make the
loss appear less—which could be done only by making us love less, since love
and grief grow on the same stalk—but gives us new revealing of His own love
to fill the emptiness, and to put into our heart new visions of the life
into which our friend has gone, to help us to rejoice in his exaltation to a
state of eternal blessedness.
We have an illustration of the divine comforting in the
way our Lord Himself was helped in His great sorrow. As He entered the
bitter experience, He prayed that the cup of suffering might pass, yet
praying submissively. The prayer was not answered in the form in which it
was made. Instead of relieving Him of His suffering, strength was ministered
to Him, and as we listen we find the intensity of His supplication subsiding
into sweet acquiescence. Thus He was comforted, and passed through all the
bitter trial of the cross without one other cry for relief, His heart filled
with perfect peace. It is thus that usually God's comfort comes to His
people—not in the lifting off of their weight of sorrow or pain—but in
strengthening them for victorious endurance.
It is well that all who are called to suffer should get a
clear and definite conception of the meaning of trouble, that they may know
how to meet it. Since it comes always bearing some gift of love, some
blessing from God—we should receive it as God's messenger, with reverence,
with a welcome in our heart, though it brings pain or grief, and should be
ready to take from it whatever benefit it brings. The reason many people
find so little comfort in their troubles, is because they do not accept them
as sent from God, nor expect to receive blessing from them. They think only
of getting through them in the best way they can, and then of getting over
them at length, as nature's slow processes brings healing.
But there is a better way. God's comfort can keep the
heart sweet and unhurt in the midst of the sorest trials, and bring the life
through the darkest hours, shining in transfigured beauty. A genial author
writes: "Strangely do some people talk of getting over a great
sorrow—overleaping it, passing it by, thrusting it into oblivion. Not so. No
one ever does that, at least no nature which can be touched by the feeling
of grief at all. The only was is to pass through the ocean of affliction
solemnly, slowly, with humility and faith, as the Israelites passed
through the sea. Then its very waves of misery will divide and become
to us a wall on the right side and on the left, until the gulf narrows and
narrows before our eyes, and we land safe on the opposite shore."
Love in Taking Away
One of the finest examples of comfort in sorrow
given in the Scriptures, is in Job's case. In quick succession had come the
messengers of misfortune and disaster, telling him of troubles and losses,
last of all reporting the death of all his children. When this climax of sad
tidings was reached, Job tore his garments, fell down upon the ground and
worshiped. Instead of losing sight of God under the crushing blows which had
fallen upon him, as so many people do at first, in time of great sorrow—he
turned at once to God, falling at His feet in reverence and homage. His
faith failed not. Everything had been taken—all his earthly blessings had
been stripped off. Yet in his grief and bereavement he said, "Naked I came
from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the
Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
It is easy enough to say that God gave, and then
to bless His name. God is always giving, and we readily see goodness and
love in His gifts. It would have been easy for Job, as his prosperity
increased, adding to his possessions, covering his fields with flocks, to
say, "It is God who gives all this," and then to add, "Blessed be His holy
name." It would have been easy as, one by one, his children came, bringing
gladness and brightness into his home, to praise God for them, and to say,
"The Lord gave—blessed be name of the Lord."
But it was not so easy now, when all this prosperity had
vanished, and when his children lay dead, to put the new chord into the song
and say, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of
the Lord be praised." Yet that is just what Job did. It was the Lord who had
given him all that had made his life happy—and it was the same Lord who now
had taken everything away—the same Lord and the same love.
There seems to have been in the stricken father, a trust
which was not shaken by all the calamities which had fallen upon him in such
swift succession. He was kept in perfect peace. He had received good at
God's hands in countless ways, and when trouble and disaster came—he saw no
reason to change his thoughts of God as his friend. He did not complain, nor
blame God—but accepted the losses of property and now the sudden smiting
down of his children, with unquestioning confidence. It was the same Lord,
and the same love, that had first given—and now had taken away.
There is immeasurable comfort in this truth, for all who
are called to give back again, the gifts which God has bestowed upon them.
God is a giving God—but He is also a God who sometimes takes away,
and, in taking away, He has not changed in His character, nor in His feeling
toward us, His children. He loves us just as truly and as tenderly when He
takes away the things or the people we love, as He did when He gave them
into our hands. They were sent to us in love, and for our good they came
with their blessing for our life. Then the taking away is also in love, and
has good and a blessing in it.
This is true, for example, of the friends we have.
We are sure of the goodness which gives them to us. They bring divine
blessings from God. We say of them, "The Lord gave—blessed be the name of
the Lord." We have no doubt whatever concerning the goodness of God in
giving our friends to us. But by and by they are taken from us. One of every
two friends must some day see the other called away, and must stand, bearing
an unshared grief, by the other's grave. Can we finish Job's song of faith
then and say, "And the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord
be praised." Can we believe that there is as true and holy love in the
taking away—as there was in the giving?
It is not necessary that we be able to discover or to see
clearly the goodness in the experience of loss or sorrow. It is here that
faith comes in. We believe in God as our Father, and we may trust His
goodness, even when it seems to be tearing down what awhile ago it
built up, when it takes from us what on a day bright with love and
blessing, it gave. The simplest faith is that which asks no questions—and
does not care to know the reasons for God's ways. Ofttimes we cannot find
reasons—God does not show us why He does this or that.
Yet while we may not be able fully to understand, we may
conceive of elements of goodness even in the taking away. For one
thing, we know it is better for our friends in that home of love into
which God calls them, than it ever could have been here. The true thought of
Christian dying, is that it is a phase or process of life. The
sorest misfortune that could come to any Christian—would be never to die!
There are developments of life which can be reached only by passing
through the experience of dying. Happy as our Christian friends may have
been here, and rich and beautiful as was their life—we know that they have
entered sweeter deeper joy, and that their life is fuller and richer where
they now are with Christ. True love in its very essence is unselfish, and it
ought to mean much to us in reconciling us to our loss—to know that our
friends have been taken into larger blessedness. We ought to rejoice in
their new happiness and in the greater honor which is shown to them, in
their entering into heaven.
Then they are kept safe and secure for us, in the home of
God. We really have not lost them, although they have been taken out of our
sight. They lose nothing of their beauty or their excellence of character in
passing through death. The things in them which made them dear to us in this
world, they will have when we shall see them again. Indeed, they will have
grown into rarer beauty and into greater dearness when we find them again.
We know, further, since God is love, that when He takes
our friends into richer life, He will send compensation to us, too, in some
way. Even the loss and the sorrow will yield their gain and their ministry
of good, unless by our attitude of mind and heart, we miss the blessing. It
is possible for us to fail to get the good which God sends, shutting our
heart against it. But there is no doubt that in every loss, a gain is
offered to us. When God takes away one blessing—He gives another. Perhaps
the withdrawal of the human object of love—makes more room in the heart for
God Himself. Or the taking away of the strength which has meant so much to
us, trains us to more dependence on God, thus bringing out in us qualities
of which hitherto we had been unaware. Or the sorrow itself deepens our
spiritual life and enriches our experience, giving us a new power of
sympathy through which we may become better comforters and helpers of
Then the taking of our earthly loved ones from our side
through the gates of blessedness, makes heaven more real to us, because they
now walk there. Thus, in many ways, does new blessing come in place of what
has been taken away.
Once more, we know too that God never really takes away
from us, out of our life, any gift or blessing that He bestows. The flower
we love, may fade—but the flower is in our heart and is ours forever. A
picture is lent to you for a little while and then is removed—but while it
hung on your wall and you gazed at it, it found its way into your heart, and
now none can ever take it from you. Your friend walked with you a few or
many days, and then vanished as to his human presence—but the threads of his
life are so inextricably entangled with yours, that he and you can never be
really separated. What God takes away, is but the form which our eyes
can see. This He keeps for us for a time until it has grown into fuller
beauty and until we have grown, too, into larger capacity for love and for
appreciation, and then He will give it back to us.
So it is only for a little while that God takes
from us our loved ones. We shall have them back again, made into immortal
beauty. The hopes we mourn as having perished, are yet in Christ's hands. He
will keep them safe for us and at length will give them back to us in
radiant and imperishable loveliness. In this life we see only the beginnings
of our good things—we see them only in bud and blossom; the full fruit, the
ripeness we shall not get until we enter the eternal and better life. One of
the surprises of heaven, will be our finding there the precious hopes, joys,
and dreams which seemed to have perished on earth—not left behind—but all
carried forward and ready to be given into our hands the moment we get home.
Trouble as a Trust
One wrote to a friend who for some time had been a
sufferer, "God must love you very dearly, to trust so much pain and sorrow
to your care." The thought of suffering as something entrusted to us by God,
is a very suggestive one. We may not be accustomed to think of it in this
way. Yet there is no doubt that every trouble which comes to us is really a
trust, something committed to us to be accepted by us, used as a gift of
God, and then accounted for.
It is thus, indeed, that all life comes to us. Nothing is
our own to use for ourselves only. We receive our gifts and talents, not to
be spent on ourselves or as we please—but to be increased by proper use,
held for the honor of the Master, employed for the benefit of the world, and
then returned to our Lord when He calls for the accounting.
Money is to be regarded likewise as a trust—not our
own—but our Master's, to be used for Him in doing good to others. The same
is true of all blessings that we receive. We dare not use any of them, even
the smallest, for our own pleasure or comfort alone; if we do—they cease to
be blessings to us. Even divine mercy, the greatest of all God's
gifts, which is granted so freely to every penitent, can become ours only on
condition that we shall dispense it to others. When we ask to be forgiven,
we must pledge our Father that we will be forgiving. The forgiveness we
receive is not for ourselves only—but is a trust to be used, to be given out
again to others.
This is the law of all life. Everything which is put into
our hands, from the tiniest flower which blooms in our window—to the
infinite gift of eternal life—all are entrusted to us that we may share
their beauty and benefit with those about us. They are bestowed upon us, not
as a treasure to be selfishly used—but as blessings to be dispensed to
others. To try to keep any blessing altogether for ourselves,is to lose it;
we can make its blessing really our own—only by holding it and using it for
the good of others.
Suffering in every form comes under the same principle.
It is a trust from God. It may have, and doubtless has, its peculiar
meaning for us. But we must listen for its message. It brings in its
dark folds some gift of God expressly for us—but not for us to hold
selfishly or to absorb in our own life. Whatever is spoken to us in the
darkness of sorrow, we are to speak out in the light. What we hear in the
ear as we listen in the hour of grief or pain—we are to proclaim upon the
housetops. What is revealed to us in the darkened room, when the curtains
are drawn—we must go and tell others in their hours of need and trial. In
all trouble—we are stewards of the mysteries of God.
Pain is wonderful revealer. It teaches us many things we
never could have known, if we had not been called to endure it. It opens
windows through which we see, as we never saw before—the beautiful things of
God's love. But the revealing is not to be hidden in our own heart. If
we try thus to keep them, we shall miss their blessing; only by declaring
them to others, can we make them truly our own and get their treasure for
ourselves. Only what we give away, can we really hold forever.
No doubt God's children are ofttimes called to suffer in
order that they may honor God in some way. This is illustrated in the case
of Job. Satan sneeringly asks, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have not you
made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he has on
every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is
increased in the land. But put forth your hand now, and touch all that he
has—and he will renounce you to your face."
It was necessary that this challenge of Satan's should be
met and disproved, and hence the great trials through which Job was called
to pass. His sufferings were not for the cleansing of his own nature, or the
correction of faults in his character—but in order that he might show by his
unshaken faith that his serving of God was not for earthly reward—but from
true loyalty of soul.
Ofttimes the primary reason why godly men are called to
suffer, is for the sake of witness they may give to the sincerity of their
love for Christ and the reality of divine grace in them. The world sneers at
religious profession. It refuses to believe that it is genuine. It defiantly
asserts that what is called Christian principle is only selfishness,
and that it would not stand severe testing. Then, godly men are called to
endure loss, suffering or sorrow, not because there is any particular evil
in themselves which needs to be eradicated—but because the Master needs
their witness to answer the sneers of the world.
This suggests how important it is that all who claim to
be Christ's followers shall guard most carefully the manner of their
witnessing when they are passing though any trial. They do not know how much
depends upon the victoriousness of their faith and joy in the hour of pain.
Suppose that Job had failed, that he had not retained his integrity in the
time of his sore trial; how Satan would have triumphed! But may it not be
that in some sickness or loss or sorrow of ours, a like importance attaches
to our faithfulness and submission, to our victoriousness, and that our
failure would bring grief to the heart of Christ and cause the adversary to
reproach God's name?
Then, whatever the unknown and inscrutable reason may be
why we are called or permitted to suffer, there is always a duty of
witnessing from which we cannot be exempted. Yet do many people think of
this? We all understand that we are to confess Christ in our life before
men, in our conduct, our words, our disposition, in our business, in our
conflict with evil. But are we accustomed to think of a duty of confessing
Christ in time of sorrow or trial? Too often those who in all other
experiences are loyal to Christ, seem to break down in times of trouble,
their faith failing. There is nothing in the way they endure pain or loss to
show that they have any support or help which those who are not Christians
do not have. No light from heaven seems to break into their earthly
darkness. No unseen hand appears to come to them in their struggle, to hold
them up. The comforts of God do not have any meaning for them. The voices of
hope have no cheer for them.
But it is not thus that the friends of Christ should
testify for their Master in their times of trial. The divine promises cover
every experience. We are assured of the presence of Christ with us in every
dark path, in every lonely way. We are clearly taught that the love of God
never fails His children, that it is as true and tender in times of
affliction—as it is in times of gladness, that it is the same when blessings
are taken away—as when they are given. We know that all things work together
for good to those who love God. It is made plain in the Scriptures, that no
tribulation can harm us if we abide in Christ, that we shall be preserved
blameless through the most terrible trials, if our faith in Christ does not
fail. Many of life's events are full of mystery—we cannot understand them,
nor can we see how they are consistent with God's love and wisdom. But we
have the most positive assurance that some time we shall understand, and
that in everything we shall see divine goodness.
With such comforts for every experience, we should never
be cast down, however great are our trials. We should let the divine
consolations into our heart, and believe them implicitly. We cannot but feel
the pangs of grief—God will never blame us for our tears—but in our deepest
afflictions our faith should not fail, and the songs of joy should not be
choked. People are looking upon us and, and consciously or unconsciously,
watching to see what Christ can do for us in our sore stress. To witness
truly for Him we must suffer victoriously, be more than conquerors through
Him that loved us.
We say that we believe on Christ and in the immortal
life; what does our believing do for us? Do we endure our trials in such a
radiant way, that those who see us are led to believe in Christ and to seek
His love and help for themselves? If trouble is something committed to us as
a trust, we must accept it reverently and submissively, we must endure it
patiently and sweetly, we must take the divine comfort and let it sustain
and strengthen us, and we must pass through it songfully, unhurt, with life
enriched. Thus shall our trouble honor Christ and be a blessing to others.
There is a strange story of Abraham which illustrates one
way in which trial must be endured if in it we would honor God. The old
patriarch was bidden to take his son, his only son, the son of his love and
of promise, and offer him on an altar as a burnt offering. The record says
that God gave this command to Abraham to prove him, that is, to see if his
faith would endure the test. And God was not disappointed in His friend.
After it was all over, the angel of the Lord said to Abraham, "Because you
have done this thing, and have not withheld your son… in blessing I will
Abraham accepted his trial as a trust from God, was
faithful, and did not fail God. Then who can tell what a blessing his
faithfulness has been to the world through the centuries? Other people have
been taught by Abraham's example, to give their children to God
unquestioningly, willing that He should use them as He will, in whatever
form of service will best honor Him and most greatly bless the world.
We are always in danger of selfishness in times of grief
or sorrow. We are apt to forget our duty to those about us. Some godly
people drop out of their hands the tasks of love which filled them in the
days of joy, and feel that they cannot take them up again. Some allow their
life to be hurt, losing its sweetness, its joy, its zest. There are those
who are never the same after a sore bereavement or a keen disappointment.
They never get back again their winningness of spirit, their interest in
others, and their enthusiasm in duty. They come out of their trial,
self-centered, less joyous as Christians, less ready to do good.
But not thus should trouble affect us, if we accept it as
a trust from God. Not only should we endure it victoriously, sustained by
Christ—but we should emerge from it ready for better service and for greater
usefulness than ever before. We are told that Jesus was made perfect
through suffering. He learned in His own experience of sorrow, how to
sympathize with His people in their sorrows, and how to comfort them. One of
the reasons for trouble, is that in it we may be prepared for helping others
in their troubles. Sorrow is a school, and we meet it as we should,
only when we learn the lessons and go out fitted for being a richer blessing
in the world.
The problem of all true living is not to miss pain or
trial—but in all experiences, however hard or bitter, to keep our heart ever
sweet, and our ministry of good, and helpfulness ever uninterrupted. The
keenest suffering should make us only the gentler in spirit, and send us out
to be yet more loving and thoughtful—a benediction to everyone we meet.
In one of Paul's epistles, we are taught that God's
comfort also is given to us in trust. We do not receive it for ourselves
only—but that we may give it out again to others. To the Corinthians, the
apostle wrote in an outburst of joyous praise: "Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, the God of all
comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to
comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we
ourselves are comforted of God." Thus the intention of our heavenly Father,
when He finds us in sorrow and ministers comfort to us, is not merely to get
us through the trial, to strengthen us to endure for ourselves the pain or
loss—but also to prepare us for being comforters of others.
When we have been helped to say, "Your will be done," in
some great trial, and have been enabled to go on rejoicing in tribulation,
we have a secret which we must tell others. We must go to those whom we find
in grief or trial, and sitting down beside them, let them know what God did
for us when we were in like experience, giving them the words of God which
have helped us.
When we pray for comfort in sorrow, it should be with
this motive—that we may get a new blessing to take to others. To ask to be
comforted merely that we may be able to endure our own pain or grief is to
pray selfishly. But when we pray that God would teach us the lessons of
comfort that we may teach them again to others that He would help us to
overcome that we may help others to be victorious, our prayer pleases Him
and will be answered.
Thus our lesson gathers itself all into this: We are
"stewards of the mysteries of God. … It is required in stewards that a man
be found faithful." When God sends us pain or sorrow—we are to be faithful.
We are to accept our trust with love and to think of it as something of
God's, which is committed to us. However heavy the burden, it is a gift from
God and has a blessing in it for us. We must never forget that in our
hardest trial—we have something of God's in our hands, and must treat it
reverently and get from it whatever good God has sent to us in it. Then we
must think of it also as something which is not for ourselves alone—but
which we are to share with others.
It is a law among physicians, that whatever new discovery
in medical science one makes—he must communicate it to the whole profession,
that all may use the new knowledge for the alleviation of suffering or the
saving of life. It should be a law of Christian life, that every good or
blessing one may receive from God, any new revealing of truth, any new
lesson, should be used for the helping of others in the name of Christ.
Some Blessings of Sorrow
It may seem strange to some, to speak of the blessing
of sorrow. We would say at first thought, "Surely nothing good can come
from anything so terrible!" Yet the Word of God assures us, and the
experience of the ages confirms the assurance—that many of the richest and
best blessings of life, come out of affliction.
One of the most striking visions of heaven granted to the
revelator on Patmos, was that of a glorified company who seemed to surpass
all the other blessed ones in the splendor of their garments and the radiant
honor of their state. They were arrayed in white robes, carried palms in
their hands, and stood nearest to the Throne and the Lamb. We would have
said that these were the children of joy, that they had come up from earth's
scenes of gladness, that their condition in life had been one of exceptional
ease and freedom from trouble, that they had never known a care or a grief.
But when the question was asked, "Those who are arrayed in the white robes,
who are they, and whence came they?" the answer was, "These are those who
have come out of the great tribulation." They were the children of
earth's sorrow. They had been brought up in the school of trial.
This vision would seem to teach us that those redeemed
ones who on earth have had the most affliction; in heaven attain the highest
honor. Their robes are whitest, indicating surpassing purity. They bear palm
branches, emblems of victory, showing that they have overcome in life's
struggles. They are nearest Christ, too, among the glorified, verifying the
promise that those who suffer with Him shall also reign with Him.
The Scriptures contain many words which receive
confirmation in this glimpse within the gates. We are told that we must
through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. The way into
a life of spiritual blessedness, is through pain. In the messages to the
seven churches we have glimpses of great privileges, blessings, and honors
which are within the reach of the followers of Christ. One shows us the tree
of life in the paradise of God. In another we see a crown of life waiting to
be put upon the head of him who is faithful. In another the lifting of the
veil reveals to us hidden manna, and a white stone, with a new name written
on it. In another it is power that is promised, authority to rule. Other of
these visions show us white garments and the name written in the Book of
Life, an honored place in the Temple of God, and, last of all, a seat beside
Christ on His Throne. But all of these heavenly prizes are shown to
us—beyond a field of struggle, and he who would win them must first fight
the battle and be a victor. "To him that overcomes," runs the promise in
every case. Not to overcome would be to miss the prize. Not to have the
trial and the struggle would be to stay in lower, lesser blessedness.
We do not know what we owe to our sorrows. Without them
we would miss the sweetest joys, the divinest revealing, and the deepest
experiences of life. Afflictions are opportunities. They come to us bearing
gifts. If we can accept them—they leave in our hand heavenly treasures. Not
to be able to receive the bearer of the blessings—is to miss the blessings
and to be poorer all the rest of our days.
Many of the finest things in character are the fruits
of pain. Many a Christian enters trial, cold, worldly, unspiritual, with
the best possibilities of his nature still locked up in his life, and
emerges from the experience a little later, with spirit softened, mellowed,
and spiritually enriched, the lovely things brought out. A photographer
carries his picture into a darkened room that he may bring out its features.
He says the light of the sun would mar the impression on the sensitized
plate. There are features of spiritual beauty which cannot be produced in a
life in the glare of human joy and prosperity. God brings out in many a soul
its loveliest qualities—when the curtain is drawn and the light of human joy
is shut out.
Sanctified afflictions soften the harshness and sharpness
of one's character. They consume the dross of selfishness and worldliness.
They humble pride. They temper worldly ambitions. They quell fierce
passions. They show to us the evil of our own heart, revealing our
weaknesses, faults, and blemishes—and making us aware of our spiritual
danger. They discipline the wayward spirit. Sorrow draws its sharp
ploughshare through the heart, cutting deep and long furrows, and the
heavenly Sower follows with the seeds of godly virtues. Then by and by
fruits of righteousness spring up. Sorrow has a tenderizing influence. It
makes us gentle and kindly toward each other. It has been said that "The
last, the best fruit which comes to late perfection, even in the kindliest
soul, is tenderness toward the hard, forbearance toward the unforbearing,
warmth of heart toward the cold, and philanthropy toward the misanthropic."
In no other school do our hearts learn the lessons of patience, tolerance,
and forbearance so quickly—as in the school of suffering. Harsh feelings are
softened, and kindly charity takes the place of resentment. Many a household
is saved from disintegration, by a grief which bows all hearts before God
and wakes up the slumbering affections.
Ofttimes, indeed, sorrow is one of the secrets of happy
home life. It is a new marriage when young parents stand, side by side, by
the coffin of their first born. Grief is like a sacrament to those who share
it, with Christ beside them. Many homes have been cured of harshness of
spirit and sharpness of speech, and saved from pride, coldness, and
heedlessness, by a sorrow which broke in upon the careless household life.
Most of us need the chastening of pain to bring out the best of our love.
Another of the blessings which come from trial, is the
finding of one's soul. It was in his great distress that the prodigal "came
to himself." Many people walk in a dream, as it were, until in some
trouble they are aroused to see the reality of spiritual things. They are
happy in their earthly gladness, satisfied with their human ambitions,
unaware meanwhile of the flitting nature of this world and of the eternal
stability of the spiritual world. They are living in a dream, as it were.
Then sorrow breaks in upon them. One who is very dear is lifted out of the
circle and glorified. At once revealing comes. They see how mistakenly they
have been living, and how perilously.
One tells of a company of tourists on the Alps who were
overtaken by night, and after groping in the deep darkness for a time were
compelled to settle down and wait until morning. A thunderstorm arose during
the darkness and a vivid lightening flash showed them that they had stopped
on the very edge of a precipice. Another step forward and they would have
fallen to their death. The lightning flashes of sorrow ofttimes reveal to
Christian people the peril in which they are living, and lead them to turn
to safer paths. Many a redeemed one in glory will look back to the time of a
great grief as the time of seeing God, which led to penitence and faith.
Another result of sorrow, when it is accepted, is in
preparing us to be better messengers of God to others. Jesus Himself was
made ready to be a sympathizing and helpful Friend by His human sufferings.
He understands our grief because in His own life He was acquainted with
grief. He is able to be a comforter to us because He Himself was comforted.
Paul tells us that the reason God comforts us in our trouble—is that we may
become comforters of others in their afflictions. We have a new power with
which to bless others, when we have come from an experience of grief. An
emptied heart is a wonderful sympathizer in other's bereavements. The power
to be a true helper of those who are in trouble, a binder up of broken
hearts—is the most divine of all enduements. Surely, then, it is worth while
to pay any price of pain or suffering, in order to receive the divine
anointing for such sacred ministry.
True comfort has a strange power to heal, to bind up
hearts' wounds, to turn sorrow into joy. The Christian home which has been
broken by bereavement, under the wise tuition of Christ, and the gentle
influences of the divine love, is made to have a deeper happiness than ever
it had before. The truth of immortality brings back the missing ones, as it
were, and they sit again in their old places. The vacant chairs seem filled
once more, and the love of the absent ones appears as real and as tender as
it did when they were here. Christian faith nullifies the sad work of death,
and binds again the broken ties.
Comfort in God's Will
A great secret of comfort lies in our heartfelt prayer,
"Not my will—but Yours, be done." When we can say this and abandon ourselves
and all in our life which causes perplexity or care, into the hands of
divine wisdom and love, the struggle is over and the peace of God is already
keeping our heart in quietness and confidence. This was the secret of the
comfort which came to our Lord Himself in Gethsemane. He was face to face
with the most terrible experience any soul ever met in this world. The
record says He was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. "Being in agony He
prayed." The Holy Sufferer pleaded that the cup of bitter anguish now being
held to His lips might pass from Him. Never was more intense prayer offered
to the Father. But amid the anguished pleading, was heard the self
restraining word of submission, "Not My will—but Yours, be done." There was
something more important than the granting of the suppliant's request—it was
that the purpose of God for Him that hour should go on unhindered.
It is interesting to trace the course of the Gethsemane
prayer, and to see how the note of submission gains the ascendancy over the
pleading for relief, until at length the struggle ends in acquiescence and
perfect peace. The first supplication was, "O My Father, if it is possible,
let this cup pass away from Me: nevertheless, not as I will—but as You
will." A little later Jesus returned again to His pleading and we hear this
petition from His lips: "O My Father, if this cannot pass away, unless I
drink it—may Your will be done." The fierceness of the struggle in the
Sufferer's soul, was being mastered by the spirit of submission to the
divine will. Soon the agony was over. The victory had been won. We have at
least an echo of the comfort which filled the heart of Jesus in His word to
Peter, a little later, when that warm hearted but rash disciple had drawn
his sword to resist the betrayal and the arrest of his Master: "The cup
which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" There was no word no
of supplication for the passing away of the cup. Jesus had made way for His
Father's will—and was comforted.
There is no other way by which true comfort can come to
any heart in time of sorrow but by acquiescence. So long as we cannot say,
"Not my will—but Your be done," the struggle is still going on, and we are
still uncomforted. Comfort is peace, and there is no peace until there is
acquiescence in the will of God. Whatever the sorrow, therefore, if we would
find divine comfort—we must seek to bring our will into complete harmony
with our Father's will.
There are reasons why we should do this in every grief or
sorrow. One is that God has a plan and a purpose for our life. There is
something He would make of us, and something He would have us do. What this
divine thought for our particular life is, the divine will discloses. Every
time we resist this will and refuse to accept it at any point, we mar the
beauty and completeness of our own life. God's purpose for us runs through
whatever sorrows or sufferings there may be in our lot. In all our
experiences, God's will for us is the bringing out of His image in us. Only
by acquiescence in the divine will, can we have our life fashioned after
this heavenly pattern.
Another reason why we should let God's will work without
resistance, without complaining, in our life—is that God is our King, and
has a sovereign right to reign over us. Lack of submission is rebellion. Not
only should our submission be complete, without condition and without
reserve, in the smallest as well as in the greatest matters; it should also
be cheerful and songful. Chafing and murmuring grieve God. The moment we
recognize the will of God in either a duty or a sorrow—we should accept it
with delight. In no other way can we please God and have His blessing of
Another reason for submitting to the divine will in time
of trouble, is that God always seeks our good. He is our Father, and would
never send into our life anything which would harm us, nor take from us
anything which would leave us poorer or less blessed. We are sure, too, that
His wisdom is perfect, and that He knows what really is good for us. We
ourselves do not know. We cannot follow the influence of this or that in our
life, nor know where such and such a course would lead us. We have no wisdom
to choose our own lot, and we would far better let God decide for us what is
The thing we are so eager to get, it may be, would do
irreparable hurt to our truest life. The joy we so desire to keep, and which
we think indispensable to our happiness, perhaps has done its full work for
us and in us, and would better now be taken away. God knows what is best for
us, and His will is not only perfect wisdom—but also perfect love. To resist
it is to do harm to our own life; to reject it and insist upon having our
own way—would be to choose evil, not good, for ourselves.
It does not seem to us that sorrow can be the bearer of
blessing to us. Yet there is no doubt that every grief or pain which comes,
brings a blessing wrapped in its dark folds. There is a marginal reading of
a verse of one of the Psalms, which tells us that our burden is a gift—God's
gift to us. Every burden which is laid upon us, however it may have become
ours, carries, folded up in it, a gift of God. God's gifts are always good.
To refuse to accept the burden—would be to reject a gift of love from our
Father and to thrust away a blessing sent for the enrichment of our life.
Diamonds are sometimes found in the center of rough
stones. It is said that the first discovery of diamonds in South Africa was
in some pebbles which were tossed about on the ground by passing feet. A
scientific man came upon a group of boys using some of these stones for
marbles, and his keen eye detected the gem that was wrapped up in the rough
encrusting. So it is that the stern and severe experiences which we call
sorrows, conceal within their forbidding exterior, diamonds of God's love
and grace. We do not know how we are robbing ourselves, when we refuse to
accept the trials which come to us in God's providence. Acquiescence in the
divine will is taking into our life the good which our Father is offering to
There are those who are called to long years of suffering
or of sorrow. It is a comfort for such to think of their pain or grief as a
friend sent to accompany them on the way. Mrs. Gilchrist wrote of Mary Lamb,
"She had a lifelong sorrow, and learned to find its companionship not
bitter." When the sufferer learns to think thus of the pain or the sorrow
which stays and does not depart—the bitterness is turned to sweetness and
the life finds blessing, inspiration, uplift, purifying in the sacred
Or it may be that the will of God would take from us
something very dear which we would like to keep. We should always remember
that God's love is the same, whether He is putting new gifts into our hands,
or taking away those we have learned to cherish. The good things which mean
so much to us are His, not ours. They have only been lent to us for a time,
and for a specific purpose. When their mission is finished God, recalls
them, and we may be sure there is blessing in the recalling.
A beautiful story is told of a devout Jewish home in
which were twin boys who were greatly beloved. In the absence of the father
both boys suddenly died. When the father returned, no knowing of the sorrow
in his home, the mother met him at the door and said,
"I have had a strange visitor since you went away."
"Who was it?" asked the father, not suspecting her meaning.
"Five years ago," his wife answered, "a friend lent me
two precious jewels. Yesterday he came and asked me to return them to him.
What shall I do?"
"Are they his?" asked the father, not dreaming of her
"Yes, they belong to him and were only lent to me."
"If they are his, he must have them again, if he
Leading her husband to the boy's room, the wife drew down
the sheet, uncovering the lovely forms, white as marble. "These are my
jewels," said the mother. "Five years ago God lent them to me and yesterday
He came and asked them again. What shall we do?"
With a great sob, the father said, bowing his head, "May
the will of the Lord be done."
That is the way to find God's comfort. He has a right to
take from us what he will, for all our joys and treasures belong to Him and
are only lent to us for a time. It was in love that He gave them to us; it
is in love that He takes them away. When we cease our struggle, and in faith
and confidence submit our will to His, peace flows into our heart and we are
Thus it is that the secret of divine comfort is found in
complete, quiet, and joyful yielding to the will of God. It does not make
the pain of the sorrow less; it does not give back the loved one who has
been called away—but it brings the heart into full accord with God, and thus
gives sweet peace. "Not my will—but Yours, be done," ends all strife and
struggle, and the soul rests in undisturbed calm on the bosom of God. We do
not try to understand, we ask no more questions; we simply trust and leave
all in our Father's hands, and are strangely, sweetly comforted.