Dear Brother Chick: – Your letter came as a comfort to my chastened spirit, and I am grateful that such helpful words were in-your heart. Our King says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Let me speak to you of my experience in this affliction, hoping it will minister to your spirit. Two hours before my hurt, in closing a letter to brother Hite, of Nashville, Tenn., I said, “Cast down, but not destroyed.” This word seemed so prophetic and true in the extreme suffering that so soon came upon me. When the doctors told me that my case was serious, and that I could never have good use of the arm again, it seemed that such restraint must cause me much impatience and worry, for I had been quite active till then, and had thought to so continue. How quickly and painfully all was changed with me. Was it a sad accident, which should have been avoided by greater caution, or was it in the purpose of God, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will”? Faith in him led me to believe the latter. This soothed and quieted me, and it was not in my heart to murmur or fret. Trust and hopes in God sustained me. His goodness and mercy through all my long life passed in review before me, and I was often moved to tears of peace and solace. Even through the many nights of great pain, so unrestful, a spirit of peace was given me, and with the early dawn the birds of song would cheer me, and my spirit would join them in praising God. To comfort and help me the more, the mails brought to us letters full of faith and love. These my wife would read to me, while I would try to keep back the tears of gratitude and comfort. So, my dear brother, I was sweetly constrained to both fee] and believe that all this affliction, and its results, were in the counsel and loves of God. To suppose I might haves escaped injury would have changed all this experience that has come to me through the hurt. My deliverance from a violent death was a little less than miraculous, as a train of cars was near when f arose’. But if I had been killed, then again the results must have been different we know, yet, unless the counsel and purpose of God established the certainty of all things, then all might have been different. Let me mention a few things to show you this. My son wrote: “If father could only have been a little more careful, how much better it would have been.” But I was frying to be careful, and the thought in my mine! (with my sight on the rails) was, “I must step carefully, and not stumble and fall before the onrushing train. Just then my right foot struck an unseen wire, and the force of the fall was fearful, and for the moment I was stunned. The next thought in my mind was, The train is near, I must get up quick. I do not know how I arose, but found myself on my feet, out of the way of the train, and badly hurt, but felt that the Lord had delivered me from so terrible a death. My right arm hung powerless at my side, and with my left hand I felt that it was partially dislocated at the shoulder, and I hoped that was the worst, though a long gash was cut in the bridge of my nose, in which the doctors took seven stitches to close the wound. They found the arm broken at the shoulder, and set it, but would not admit the dislocation, to which I called their attention. O how grateful I felt, even then, that my life was precious in the sight of God. Dr. Wilcox, who attended me, said the arm could not be put in place unless I took chloroform which at my age would be at the risk of my life. We then decided to leave St. Paul, Ind., and see Dr. Bedford, of Indianapolis, and did so June 18th. He called Dr. Haggard, Professor of Surgery, in consultation. They said there would be no risk in the chloroform, but the risk would be of breaking the arm again, or of rupturing a blood vessel. So they declined to operate on me, advised me to let well enough alone, and told me I had come off well at my age. The next day we went to Olney, Ill., to visit my granddaughters, and to consult Dr. Webber at his sanitarium, for he had sent me word to come there and he would put my arm in place, He did this safely on June 21st. Trusting in the Lord and without fear I laid down on the operating table and inhaled chloroform. The nest thing I knew I found myself lying on a sofa in another room, with acute pain in my shoulder. Soon Dr. Webber came in and asked how I felt. I told him, and said, “Doctor, you haven’t put my arm in place, have you?” With a smile he answered, “Yes, my friend, your arm is all right.” O, brother Chick, the relief and gratitude I felt was too deep for utterance. About forty days my suffering had been severe, in which time the broken arm had firmly united and my lacerated nose was nicely healed, and most admiringly and thankfully had I watched this good physician which the all-wise and beneficent One had placed within me, and now, by the skill of a kind surgeon, my helpless arm would again help its fellow arm. O how wonderful are the provisions of God in nature! How could I have realized all this goodness of mercy and comfort of love in the absence of the attendant suffering and need! How otherwise could the Head of the church perfect his body, and enter into his glory, only through suffering? He must first drink the bitter cup his Father gave him, and be baptized into death. He thus fulfilled all righteousness for his members, and is in oneness with them. So likewise must we be made partakers of his sufferings in the flesh, that we may also be glorified together with him; and so the reproaches and sufferings of Christ have been my consolation in affliction. God is rich in mercy, but only through suffering do we need his mercy and bless him for it. He ordained both the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we die, we shall also live with him. Surely then these are sanctified afflictions. I would not have chosen them, but God hath chosen us in the furnace of affliction, and in his Son, and thus through the sufferings of Christ He refines us.
“Deep in unfathomable mini’s
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.”
My spirit rejoices in him that it is so, and that none can stay his hand. Now I am in his hand, waiting his will, and praying, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” I have wanted to write to you and the beloved in the Lord of these trials and consolations, and testify that “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.” To his suffering and buffeted servant Paul he said, “My grace is sufficient for thee,” &c. This is true of us also; it is Christ’s strength in our weakness.
Now, with love to all the saints, farewell.
Willow Hill, Ill., July 18, 1904.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72., No. 23.
DECEMBER 1, 1904.