The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Healing leaves for the sorrows of the way
They said to her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "Because they’ve taken away my Lord," she told them, "and I don’t know where they’ve put Him." John 20:13
To Mrs. Turner, May 5, 1856.
My beloved friend,
The above was the sorrowful lament of one who had known the presence of Jesus, and now felt His absence; who had enjoyed His company, and now mourned the loss of it. All the world was nothing to her without the Lord; she came to indulge her love and grief by adding "sweet spices" to the myrrh and aloes which were already wrapped with His precious body--but even that body was gone, this last solace was denied her. And, oh! what a sinking, saddened heart she had, when, weeping and wondering, she looked again into the sepulcher. Methinks it was a hopeless look; she had already seen that the holy body was not there—but she would look once more at the very spot where it was laid. And what was her joy when she was greeted by His living voice calling her by name! She expected not to hear that voice again, she had no thought of beholding a risen Redeemer; but He had said, "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice," and His words were now sweetly fulfilled in this seeking soul, who, having much forgiven, loved Him much.
But perhaps you will wonder what all this has to do with you. Why, my beloved, I have heard from our dear Mrs. N— that you are depressed, and so I have been thinking that, perhaps, like poor Mary, you are feeling as if you had lost your Lord. Then, when He stands afar off--all looks gloomy, afflictions are more painful, trials more perplexing, and even mercies look less cheering. The poet has truly said—
"I can do all things, and can bear
All sufferings, if my Lord be there;
Sweet pleasures mingle with the pains,
While His left hand my head sustains.
"But if my Lord be once withdrawn,
And I attempt to work alone;
When new temptations spring and rise,
I prove how great my weakness is."
We are so prone to commit these two great evils—departing from the Fountain of living waters, and hewing out to ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water. And our wise and gracious Lord will let us, for a season, reap the fruit of our doings, in order to make our folly hateful to us. But He will not always chide nor cast off forever. He will return unto us with mercies, and with healing in His wings. He is the good Samaritan, and if we have spiritually fallen among thieves, who have stripped us of our garments of praise, and robbed us of the joys of His salvation, and wounded us until we feel half dead; though He may first let us prove that all "self-helps" and creature helps are vain, yet at length He will be sure "to come that way," and minister to our needy case, saying, "I am the Lord who heals you."
But if this be not your case, and that rather in sovereignty He has been pleased to withdraw His blessed presence, saying, "It is expedient for you that I go away," and you, like Mary, are sorrowing; yet, dear friend, you do not sorrow without hope. He has not only said, "I go away," but also, "I come again unto you;" and by the absence of sensible enjoyments for a season, He means you to learn more of that life of faith which is honoring to Him and strengthening to the soul. He says by the prophet, "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light, (or bright shining)? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." So whatever be your case, there is a remedy in Jesus, which the blessed Spirit will bring home and apply, causing you to sing that dear wilderness song, "He restores my soul!"
Have you wandered? The good Shepherd will seek you out, and bring you back. (Ezek. 34:11, 12) Have you sought help from creatures? He will disappoint you there, and give you all in Himself. (Hosea 2:7, 14, 15) Have you sinned? Your advocate pleads for you, and His precious blood cleanses you from all sin. (1 john 1:7, 2:1) Has your Beloved withdrawn Himself? Arise, and seek Him in the Word, in the ordinances of His house, and in your closet; then before long He will be found of you, and you shall joyfully say, "I found Him whom my soul loves." It is not in vain to seek Him, to wait on Him, and to wait for Him; all of which the blessed Spirit will enable you to do. But should you be tried with an increase of bodily affliction, your blessed Lord is the Physician of value who can reach and touch that case also, therefore do not pore over it—but take it to Him with whom all things are possible; yes, He can even bring you a step higher than all that has been said, enabling you to rejoice in His will, when most contrary to the flesh, and to live daily in the spirit of that profound sentence, "Your will be done." Oh, that is a blessed state! then is the mind kept in perfect peace, being stayed on Him. May the Lord bring us to it, by His own power, and for His own glory!
I have been very weak and ill—but am just reviving again for a season. "My times are in Your hands," and whether it be health or sickness, if Jesus be but glorified, it shall be well. We are His dear-bought purchase. Oh, what a price has He paid for us! And will He allow sin, or Satan, or any circumstances of body or mind, to separate us from Him, and rob Him of His right? No, never, never! He loves us too well; in all things we shall eventually be more than conquerors through Him who loves us. Cheer up, beloved friend; He may allow us to wade deep in our own corruptions; He may bring us through fire and through water of temptation and tribulation—but He will bring us out into the wealthy place, and we shall see His face with joy. "Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it." We have you often in remembrance; and I shall be happy if, before this reaches you, the gloom you have felt be past, and you are filled with praise and thanksgiving to Him who alone is worthy. Seek for close walking and much communion; and may you daily "count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord." May every covenant blessing be with you.
Kind love from your poor unworthy friend and fellow-pilgrim,
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