Mrs. Hannah E. Scarborough
Dear Sister in the Lord:
Your letter came a few days ago, and I am sorry to hear of your poor bodily health. Yet, I know that even this is in the power of our Heavenly Father, and it is not a chance that it is your present lot. How agreeable, how comforting, is the expectation that in the better, the heavenly country, in Jerusalem above, the inhabitants shall not say, “I am sick.” “The people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquities” (Isaiah 33:24). “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).
This morning, about as soon as I awakened, the following hymn came into my mind:
“Sovereign Ruler of the skies!
Ever gracious, ever wise!
All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
His decree, who formed the earth,
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place and time
All appointed were by Him.
He that formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.”
They came with a comforting effect into my soul. As I mused upon them, I thought it is an easy matter for worldly professors, for those who are at ease in Zion to give their assent unto, and even talk about all things being ordered by the wise decrees of the Almighty God. But let their delights be taken away, their sheltering gourds he withered, their enterprises blasted, and trials, straits and adversities be their portion, then they are full of cursing and bitterness.
Fair weather believers are plentiful; but the true children of God continue with Jesus Christ in His temptations. I found even this day that I needed abundance of grace from our Beloved that I may continue a believer in God, and trust in Him, and be found in acquiescence to His sovereign will, so that with all affection I may sing even in tribulation –
“All my times shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree,
Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial, and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;
Times the tempter’s power to prove:
Times to taste the Savior’s love –
All shall come, and last, and end
As shall please my Heavenly Friend.
Plagues and deaths around me fly;
‘Till He bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit
‘Till the God of love sees fit.”
David, in the 31st Psalm, exclaims, “For I have heard of the slander of many; fear was on every side, while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life, But I trusted in thee, O Lord; I said, Thou art my God. My times are in Thy hand; deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant; save me for Thy mercies’ sake.” Our times are not in the hands of men, not in the hands of the devil, and not in our own hands. But I would believe with all my heart, that is acquiescingly believe, that all my times are in the hand of the Lord God Omnipotent who reigneth; unto Whom my heart often cries, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will he done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
I review my life and plainly see it has not been as in my early days I pictured my future. I have learned, and think I can say with the prophet, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
I would not direct my steps, for I am so often conscious that I am so foolish and ignorant. I need to be held by my hand to the Lord, and to be upheld and led by our dear Redeemer.
You speak of memories of former loving kindnesses of the Lord. A few days ago I had sweet memories - memories of happy days. I was happy in the “pleasant things” (Lam. 1:7), that the gracious God surrounded me with. As I mused upon those bright, happy days, I said in my heart, Truly, I have been a favored one, God has been rich in mercy and loving kindness to me, an unworthy sinner. The circumstances, the scenes of my life today, are so different. (Yet, if it be the will of God that my times are to continue as they are, I would not exchange them for those former happy day, for I have proved many times that the Lord knoweth my soul in adversities (Psalm 31:7). Now, I am often much bowed down. I have trials that bow me down, bring down my heart with labor and travail, and I sometimes go mourning all the day. My way is hedged in, I am faint and weary, and my soul is often much cast down. The adversaries of my soul are lively, and appear against me in the field from so many quarters. My conflicts are often so severe, I cannot tell where they will end. But, my sister, I am driven, I am drawn to tell the Lord all my troubles. I make my moans unto Him, seek His counsel, and plead with Him to uphold me. Oh! I would have my eyes ever unto the Lord that He will hush my murmurings, chase away my fears and increase my faith. If ever there was a poor, needy sinner, surely I am such. This is no mere lip assertion, for I feel it deeply amidst the tribulations of my path. Then sometimes I am overcome in melting gratitude because of the compassion of the Lord, because of His grace, because He so graciously exercises my soul unto Himself to fall at His footstool, and there I pour out my heart unto Him, and He comforts me, upholds my soul in life and hope, yes, He nourishes my tried soul with the mercies of the everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.
O, there is nothing like the unsearchable riches of Christ as a solace and strength in our conflicts and trials! Jesus’ precious blood shed for the remission of our sins, His robe of righteousness, His high priesthood, His intercession for transgressors, and many other glorious and comforting verities of the gospel of Christ are bestowed upon me amidst the trials of the way; and they make the meat and drink of my heart, and thus I am nourished, replenished, and lift up my head a little, and some times I make melody in my heart to the Lord. That religion that is destitute of Christ and Him crucified, affords me neither consolation nor hope, for I am a sinner. So vile is my corrupt nature, I need the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God, and the justifying, beautifying robe of Christ’s righteousness. I need the blessedness of our precious Redeemer now, as much as when I first believed in Him. I will repeat it, my sister, that my most sacred, blessed movements are when I, as a poor, humbled, contrite sinner, fall at the feet of the Crucified One, and there by the gracious power of the Holy Ghost toward me (taking of the things of Christ and shewing them unto me (John 16:14), have hope lifting up and comforting my troubled soul that Jesus died for me. Here is a hymn that is the language of my heart. Ponder it in your heart:
“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend;
Life and health, and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.
Here I’ll sit forever viewing
Mercy’s streams, in streams of blood;
Precious drops my soul bedewing
Plead and claim my peace with God.
“Truly blessed in this station,
Low before His cross to lie;
While I see divine compassion
Floating in His languid eye:
Here it is I find my heaven,
While upon the Lamb I gaze;
Love I much? I’ve much forgiven –
I’m a miracle of grace.
“Love and grief my heart dividing.
With my tears His feet I’ll bathe;
Constant still in faith abiding,
Life deriving from His death,
May I still enjoy this feeling,
In all need to Jesus go;
Prove His wounds each day more healing,
And Himself more deeply know,”
“God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” O, it is when I, a poor, tried sinner, find Christ crucified to be my meat and my drink that I am solaced, I am sustained to hear the burden and heat of the day.
Sweet peace and friendship with God is then felt to be mine, and I sing –
“My conquest is sure through His blood,
Though now there’s a warfare within,
And satan comes in like a flood,
To draw my poor heart after sin.
Fresh succor from Christ I receive,
Who did all my conflicts foresee,
And though His rich grace I believe
He saved a poor sinner like me.”
“Unto you therefore which believe He is precious” (1 Peter 2:7). He dwells in the hearts of His people by faith. He has His abode in us, and He is held in our heart’s affections as our All. Christ is everything to His blood-bought ones. I feel I can say He is everything to memy Beloved, my Hope, my Salvation, my All. And He is in His people the hope of glory, for God hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus (1 Peter 5:10). O can it be that frail, sinful human beings, such as we, are destined unto eternal glory? When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory: Crowned with glory that fadeth not away. If we are children of God, then we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
“For I reckon (saith the Apostle Paul) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” And so on to the end of the chapter (Romans 8), what unspeakably gracious and glorious things are declared to be the ultimate portion of those who are Christ’s.
0h! I hope I am His; and this sweetens all things, puts strength in me to endure trials, sustains me in the rugged way, and inspires my soul to hope to the end for the grace of God that is brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
May the Lord very tenderly refresh your soul amidst your afflictions, is the heart’s desire of
Your brother in Christ’s gospel,
FREDERICK W. KEENE, Raleigh, NC.
THE LONE PILGRIM,
Volume 10, No. 3,
March 15, 1932