The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Tribulation works patience
"He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you."
"The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." Psalms 145:14
To Miss M., April 21, 1856.
My beloved friend,
I have been much longing to respond to your last welcome and cheering note. I do indeed rejoice that you had such a comfortable visit from the Lord's dear servant, Mr. D—, and trust it was a lasting lift from the Lord Himself, and that you may not again sink so low as you did before, nor give place to unbelief and Satan--for these giant foes will raise questionings about the brightest manifestations and sweetest enjoyments. May the Lord rebuke them, and enable you to go forward trusting in Him, who will show you greater things than these.
I admire the Lord's work in the sweet effects you mention of being afraid to act to free yourself from trial, while you are kept waiting upon the Lord to see Him work and go before you in all things. This is very blessed and safe. One has well said, "When we follow the Lord and keep His company, He always bears our expenses; if we run before Him or go alone, He may leave us to bear our own." The Lord may lead us round—but he will lead us right. Oh! may you, my dear friend, be kept in a waiting frame of spirit; it is most blessed, though very contrary to our flesh. You know our time here is so short that if things of an outward kind be ever so disagreeable, it will soon, very soon, be over; and all that now annoys our flesh will, in the light of eternity, appear a very nothing. This thought reminds me of a dear young friend, who has only been married three or four years—but in that time has had a sea of tribulation to wade through. This has arisen from the sin of her husband, who should have been her comfort, instead of which his attentions have been bestowed elsewhere, and she has had to bear neglect, contempt, personal unkindness; and now for more than a year she, with her two children, has been deserted. But the Lord has sanctified the sorrow and drawn her to Himself; and most moving it is to see her humbled, softened spirit—I mean spiritually softened, for she is naturally kind and amiable—and to hear her say she feels every step has been permitted by God, for if her path had been smooth, she might have rested in outward comforts—but now the world looks nothing to her, and things she once enjoyed have no charm. In speaking of probable future trial she said, "Oh, we have such a short time to stay here, it seems comparatively of little importance in what outward circumstances we are--just as long as the soul is right." This is a true testimony from a young disciple in deep trial. Oh! may we live in the spirit of it, and our daily cry be, "Lord, lift up the light of your countenance upon me." In company with Jesus, the heaviest trials are borne as among covenant blessings, even the sure mercies of David.
We call ourselves "pilgrims and strangers," but surely if we were quite satisfied with being so, we would not be so disconcerted by the annoyances of the road and of the inn—for what is any place here but an inn—just a lodging-place for a little season until our Father sends for us home. If our fellow-travelers are unkind, unreasonable, or anything beside, yet we shall soon part. And perhaps after all we may find how much self-love has been prevailing in us, and how often we are murmuring about the mote in their eye and neglecting the beam in our own. Oh! my beloved one, may the Lord give us a meek, quiet, and patient spirit, which is, in the sight of God, of great price--though very contrary to our flesh. That has been a striking word to me, "We count them happy who endure." That word "endure" is worthy to be written in letters of gold. May the blessed Spirit set it in our hearts, and set our hearts steadfastly unto it in all the real or imaginary ills of life. To endure for Christ's sake breaks much of their force.
"He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness." (Malachi 3:3) Well, dear friend, we are both in the furnace! Much, very much vile dross has in my case risen up--but my blessed and patient Refiner sits watching the process. Nor does all this dross, hateful as it is, make Him forsake the work of His hands. He will have me know a little of what is in my heart, that I may know more of what is in His heart--even love, most invincible, unalterable, unquenchable love! Love that endures to the end, amidst all my wickedness, and wandering, and ingratitude. It is indeed marvelous! Into the blessed depths of this love I desire to be daily sinking, in all the fresh discoveries of my utter worthlessness and vileness--that thus I may praise Him more who has redeemed me from it all!
The Lord does not show us how bad we are to cause despair--but to show forth the riches of His grace in saving us, and to call forth new songs of praise to Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood!
Oh, my dear friend, Jesus is worthy to be praised in the depths as well as in the heights. He is near, and dear, and precious in the hour of affliction, and in the path of tribulation, where He gives some of His choicest fruits and wines to revive those who are faint and weary in the wilderness. I am most thankful He gave you such a seasonable refreshment; and, like Manoah, you will be saying, "O my Lord, let the man of God whom you did send come again to us." But I mean especially the Lord Himself, for it was His visitation that refreshed your spirit, and He sent His servant where He himself meant to come. Where He has been once He is quite sure to come again. "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice!" Meanwhile it will be your mercy to be seeking for that excellent life of faith which is so strengthening to the soul, so glorifying to the Lord. Oh! may you be helped, yes enabled, "to trust in the Lord at all times;" not when you feel His love and have the shine of His countenance—but also in the dark and wintry day when clouds veil your sky, and sorrow invades your soul. "When I am afraid, I will trust in You."
With kindest love and best wishes, I remain yours in Jesus most affectionately,
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