“The story of Harriet Newell is an illustration of a broken life. Listening to the cries of the perishing and to the call of duty—she sailed away as a missionary. She had in her heart a great purpose, and a great hope. She planned to devote her rich and beautiful life, with all its powers of love, sympathy and helpfulness, to the cause of Christ in heathen lands; she hoped to be a blessing to thousands as she lived a sweet life amid the darkness and heathenism, and told the story of Christ’s cross, to perishing ones. With these desires and hopes in her soul, she sailed away to India—but she was never permitted to do any work for Christ among those she so yearned to save. Driven from inhospitable shores and drifting long at sea, first her baby died, and then she herself soon sank into death’s silence. In one short year she was—bride, missionary, mother and saint.
Truly, her life seemed a broken one—defeated, a failure. Not one of the glorious hopes of her own consecration, was realized. She told no heathen sister of the love of Christ; she taught no little child the way of salvation; she had no opportunity to live a sweet life in the midst of the black heathenism she so wanted to bless; yet that little grain of wheat let fall into the ground and dying there—has yielded a wonderful harvest. The story of her life has kindled the missionary spirit in thousands of other women’s souls. Harriet Newell, dying with all her heart’s holy hopes unrealized, has done far more for missions by the inspiration of her heroic example, and by the story of her life’s sacrifice—than she could ever have done in the longest life of the best service in the field. The broken life became more to the world than it could have become by the carrying out of its own plans.
God seems to be able to do little with earth’s unbroken things, and therefore almost always he chooses broken things with which to do his work in this world …”
“… It is by broken lives—broken by pain, trouble and sorrow—that God chiefly blesses the world. It is by the shattering of our little human plans—that God’s great perfect plan goes on in us and through us. It is by crushing our lives until their beauty seems entirely destroyed—that God makes us blessings in this world. Not many men nor many women without suffering in some form, become largely helpful to others. It seems as if we could not be fit instruments for God to use, to speak his words, and breathe the songs of his love, and carry to others the blessings of his grace—until his chastening hand has done its sharp, keen work upon our lives!
It is, then, a lesson of faith that we should learn. We ought never to be afraid of God’s providences, when they seem to break up our lives and crush our hopes—even to turn us away as Christ’s true disciples from our chosen paths of usefulness and service. God knows what he wants to do with us—how he can best use us—and where and in what lines of ministry, he would have us serve, or whether he would have us only “stand and wait.” When he shuts one door—it is because he has another standing open for us. When he thwarts our plans—it is that his own plan may go on in us and through us. When he breaks our lives to pieces—it is because they will do more for his glory and the world’s good, broken and shattered, than whole.”
J.R. Miller 1888