Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comforting others with God's comfort

Marja shared on her latest post "Enlarging your soul through grief and loss", on how in her own trials, she is drawing most of her comfort from being there for friends who are in trouble. Coming alongside others somehow brings some healings.

It has been my own experiences too that whenever the Lord enables me to reach out to others who are in need, He brings joy and comfort to me in my own afflictions. Comforting others with the same comfort which God is comforting me, reinforces God's truth, His love and sovereignty in my own life.

Many years ago, I read a very encouraging and inspiring account of the life of CH Spurgeon's wife, Susannah Thompson. I have posted Susannah's story on my Believers' Encouragement blog under "Mrs Spurgeon".

Throughout much of her married life Mrs. Spurgeon was a semi-invalid. For long periods of time she was confined to her home and was not well enough even to attend church. But she bore up nobly under those conditions. She encouraged her husband under his frequent sufferings and did not complain about her own.

Nevertheless, she longed to be busy for the Lord. Every sentence from her pen that has come down to us and every mention of her that has been left by others reveals a very gracious and spiritually minded woman.

In 1875 a door of rich usefulness was opened for her. Her husband's Lectures to My Students had recently been published, and the Lord set upon her heart the desire to send a copy to some needy ministers in England. From what she could save from her housekeeping expenditures, she had just enough to purchase 100 copies of the Lectures. Soon she sent a copy to each of one hundred needy ministers. She thought that was the end of the matter, but although she did not allow her husband to mention what she had done, news of her action spread, and friends began sending her money so she could send out more books. Several of the pastors who had been given the copies sent letters that expressed their thanks and made it evident that books were sorely needed.

Moved by a strong recognition of the need and feeling God wanted her to continue the endeavor, she ordered a number of sets of The Treasury of David. (Spurgeon had written four volumes of that work at that time.) Those also went to needy pastors, and again there came the letters of thanks and further evidence of need. Many men were trying to maintain homes and bring up families on meager incomes.

Although there was still no public mention of what Mrs. Spurgeon had done, money continued to arrive and with it urgent requests that she continue the good work. For instance, one man sent £50, asking that she send a copy of the Lectures to the nearly 500 pastors of the Calvinistic Methodist Churches of North Wales. Then another £50 came to help defray the costs of that undertaking. That was followed by £100 to send the book to the ministers of the same denomination in South Wales.

News of the gifts spread still further, and ministers of various denominations wrote, stating that a copy of the Lectures, the Treasury; or Spurgeon's other writings would be of great help, but that they were too poor to purchase them. And as those letters reached Mrs. Spurgeon, more money arrived. She could see she had a lasting work to do, an undertaking given by God.......There were times she performed her duties in weakness and pain, and other times she was so ill that her labors were entirely prevented.

Nevertheless, over and above the value of the books and the goods to the various recipients, the enterprise was especially valuable to Mrs. Spurgeon herself. It gave her reason to feel that despite her condition she was able to serve. Spurgeon spoke of the endeavour as divinely ordered, and he reported the change it had made in Susannah, saying:

I gratefully adore the goodness of our Heavenly Father, in directing my beloved wife to a work which has been to her fruitful in unutterable happiness. That it has cost her more pain than it would be fitting to reveal, is most true; but that it has brought her boundless joy is equally certain. Our gracious Lord ministered to His suffering child in the most effectual manner, when He graciously led her to minister to the necessities of His service.

By this means He called her away from her personal grief, gave tone and concentration to her life, led her to continual dealings with Himself, and raised her nearer the centre of that region where other than earthly joys and sorrows reigned supreme. Let every believer accept this as the inference of experience, that for most human maladies the best relief and antidote will be found in self-sacrificing work for the Lord Jesus.

And Mrs. Spurgeon testified: "I am personally indebted to the dear friends who have furnished me with the means of making others happy. For me there has been a double blessing. I have been both recipient and donor... My days have been made indescribably bright and happy by the delightful duties connected with the work and its little arrangements.... That I seem to be living in an atmosphere of blessing and love, and can truly say with the Psalmist, "My cup runneth over." Read more.....

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