Thursday, April 1, 2010

Let Others See What Is In You

Paul Wolfe concludes a portion of a letter from Samuel Rutherford to a woman whose husband had died, in his book, My God is True! He also gives some background information on Rutherford himself. His comments and the portion from Rutherford's letter help stay the soul in difficult times.

"Throughout his life Rutherford carried on a remarkable ministry of letter-writing to members of the congregation he served, as well as to other friends and family members, using pen and post to encourage them with the truths of the gospel. Today we have over three hundred of Rutherford's letters preserved.

"On September 14, 1634, Rutherford wrote to a woman whose husband had died just two days before. Rutherford knew from personal experience that the death of one's spouse ranks high among sorrows (his first wife had died in 1630), and he acknowledged this in his letter to her. He wrote, 'I must out of some experience say, the mourning for the husband of your youth be, by God's own mouth, the heaviest worldly sorrow (Joel 1:8).' He knew that her was a grief not to be treated lightly or dismissed. Yet he also knew that the Lord was at work to bring about good. In particular, Rutherford trusted that the loss of her husband would serve as a heart test that would show others where her deepest joy was to be found. He urged her, in the midst of her sorrow, to:

'Let God, and men, and angels now see what is in you. The Lord hath pierced the vessel; it will be known whether there be in it wine or water. Let your faith and patience be seen, that it may be known your only beloved, first and last, hath been Christ.'

"Those are stirring and challenging words. He wanted this woman to appreciate the fact that her joy was now on trial as a result of her husband's death. It was her heart that was now being tested and revealed. God and men and angels were watching. Of course, God already knew what was in her heart, but men and angels needed to see it, and in any case the all-knowing God was still worthy of a faithful display. And Rutherford was confident that she would make just such a display. He knew her well enough to know that the results of her test would be heartening. He wrote:

'I am now expecting to see, and that with joy and comfort, that which I hoped of you since I knew you fully, even that ye have laid such strength upon the Holy One of Israel, that ye defy troubles, and that your soul is a castle that may be besieged, but cannot be taken.'

"As it was with those who read the Apostle Peter's letter [1 Peter 1:6-9], so it was with this woman who read Rutherford's letter: her loss had not made her joyful; rather, it would have the effect of revealing the joy in Christ that she already had."

Letters of Samuel Rutherford, The Banner of Truth Trust, reprinted 1984, pp. 100-101. My God is True: Lessons Learned Along Cancer's Dark Road, Paul D. Wolfe, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009, pp. 73-74.


pd.wolfe said...

Rutherford did write some extraordinary letters, didn't he? I'm glad you've found this to be an encouragement, as well as the note I received from my friend all those years ago.

Paul Wolfe
Centreville, Virginia

Dean Olive said...

Paul, How nice to have the author of the book made reference to in my blog stop by for a visit! I am very thankful for your book. I have sent copies to two people already this week and will send two more tomorrow. Three of them are pastors whose wives have received the news less than a week ago that they have cancer. I am sure your book will be a blessing to them. Since reading your book, the text, Ps 112:7, has become precious to me. I even spoke from that text at our prayer meeting last night. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you to touch the lives of thousands of God's needy people.

pd.wolfe said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Dean. I continue to pray that the book would prove fruitful in the lives of others, including these friends of yours who have gotten bad news. Thankfully, the good news is better (although that doesn't make it easy).

Caleb Kolstad said...

Hello friend-

It has been some time since we talked last; at a FIRE conference i believe.

I hope you are doing well in the Lord!

Together for the gospel