The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Comfortable words for a sorrowing spirit
"Woman," Jesus said to her, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" John 20:15
To Mrs. Turner, August 13, 1856.
My dear Mrs. Turner,
Once again I take up my pen to greet you in the dear name of Him who was anointed to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, to set at liberty those who are bruised, and to comfort those who mourn--that those who mourn may be exalted to safety. I understand that at this time your harp is on the willows, that you are a woman of a sorrowful spirit, and one of those who mourn. I know not what is the cause of your being at present cast down—but your heavenly Father knows, and He has promised that He will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to bear, and that, with every temptation, He will make a way to escape. "Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it."
You know David said, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path," implying that He did not know it Himself. And Job said, "But He knows the way which I take: when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold." And when was this? Why, it was just when he went forward and backward, to the right hand and to the left, in search of Him—but he could not find Him; yet he believed that the Lord knew all, and would bring him out of that hot furnace even as gold. Ah, say you, "but I am not gold." Well, beloved, that may be so to your view, because the dross is rising up, and you can see and feel nothing else. But the great Refiner sees differently, and I quite believe that it will be proved that "better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof."
Many of the Lord's people have come into very dark and intricate paths of experience—but never were they left or forsaken, although many have often feared it, saying, as David, "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul." But did he perish? No! Neither shall you; the Lord would not have showed you such things if He had meant to destroy you. It is to humble you and prove you, that He may do you good in your latter end; and when He has shown you a little of what is in your heart, He will show you something of what is in His heart--even "thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." He will then reveal the everlasting love which has been fixed upon you from all eternity, and is now drawing you to Himself. Yes, you shall see such love flowing from your Father's heart in the precious gift of His beloved Son, whom He delivered up to the sword of justice and to the curse of the law for your sake--that though you find nothing within but abomination, and nothing without but sin and shortcoming, though you feel yourself full of wounds and bruises and putrefying sores--yet shall you experience that with His stripes you are healed, in His blood you are cleansed, and in His righteousness you are justified.
Hear what He says, "O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help." You may be now learning something of the depths of your malady—but it will only enhance the blessing of the cure. "The deep of your misery calls unto the deep of His mercy," and it shall not call in vain. Satan, the devouring lion, may be roaring against you, he may open his mouth at you—but the Lord will not leave you in his power; the good Shepherd will deliver you even though you feel broken and wounded. (Amos 3:12) Whatever the enemy touches, he shall not touch your life, for that is "hidden with Christ in God." O my dear friend, I know his fearful power! there was a time when I felt as if I was in his mouth—but he was not permitted to close it upon me; the Lord graciously delivered me, and I live to encourage others to hope in His mercy.
I have also known what it is to travel through the wretched wilderness of my own heart, and learn something of its corruptions—feeling hard, cold, barren, prayerless--and everything else that is hateful. It was like that dreary land mentioned in Jer. 2:6, and it felt as solitary as if none else could be there—"they wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way." But One eye was watching, though unseen; One arm was supporting, though unfelt; and at length the Sun of righteousness arose upon my sorrowful soul, and, "turned the shadow of death into the morning." Then I wanted to fly away from these lowlands of sorrow, and be at rest in His bosom forever—but He said, "Go back and tell your friends and neighbors how great things the Lord has done for you, and has had compassion upon you." Many years have passed since then—but I have not yet spoken half enough of His wondrous love; and so I now say to you, He has delivered, He does deliver, and in Him we trust that He will yet deliver.
You cannot be more gloomy, helpless, hopeless, and unbelieving than I was, and "He who has delivered me from so great a death" will deliver you also. "His hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear!" And if your iniquities have separated between you and your God, the precious blood of Jesus cleanses them all away, who Himself says, "Look unto me, and be saved." The bitten Israelites were not healed by looking at their wounds—but at the brazen serpent, which was a type of Christ; and so while you are poring over your sins and yourself you will only sink lower. "Looking unto Jesus" is the way of deliverance. "They looked unto Him, and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed." Perhaps you say, "But I cannot, He is hidden from my view." Well, my beloved, if you cannot look at Jesus yet, seek to be looking towards Him, as Jonah 2:4, and it shall not be in vain.
Whatever be your case, this is the way of relief, and from this way Satan will mightily struggle to keep you, knowing that thereby he will be overcome. The cross and blood of Jesus are more than a match for him; and when the vilest or weakest sinner shelters there, his fiery darts are quenched, and the prey is delivered. May the blessed Spirit enable you to look forth with the eye of faith to the Lamb slain, and to come away from self and all besides--to Jesus. "Unto whom coming as unto a living stone." Oh, come away, come, come to Jesus! "He will never cast you out." "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come," and by the Father's drawings you shall have power so to do; for "He gives power to the faint, and to those who have no might He increases strength."
Oh that I could so speak of the worthy Lamb as to set your heart on fire with love to Him and longing after Him, that you might keep following Him like those blind men, who, when told to be quiet, cried out the more a great deal, "Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on us!" He granted their request, and He will grant yours! His delays are not denials. It has been well said, "If Christ seems to keep His door closed against you, it is not to shut you out—but only to make you knock the louder." Oh, we do our precious Jesus great wrong in our hard thoughts of Him, because He does not answer immediately! "Lord, increase our faith." Adieu, dear friend. The Lord bless you, and in His own time strengthen, establish, and settle you.
With kind love in our adorable Emmanuel, I remain, though most unworthy, yours affectionately,
"I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do." Psalm 12:5
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