The following was written by Susannah Spurgeon shortly after the death of her husband. Anyone at all familiar with their story knows how deeply they loved one another. If ever there were a love story in church history, theirs must be it. Her grief here is almost palpable. One can only silently mourn by her side as she calls to mind “treading this highway of life together, hand in hand-heart linked to heart.” Yet, despite the trauma of her loss, she concludes with “the goodness and mercy” of God who faithfully followed and cared for them all those years.
This world is fleeting. How soon we will be done with it. Our lives are but a vapor. But for those who are called and kept by the power of God, our hope is yet to come. Susannah knew that. And even in her deep and abyssal mourning, the fire of her faith would not be extinguished.
I have traveled far now on life’s journey; and, having climbed one of the few remaining hills between earth and Heaven, I stand awhile on this vantage-ground, and look back across the country through which the Lord has led me.
A well-defined pathway is visible, but it appears devious and wandering; sometimes skirting a mountain-top, whence one could catch glimpses of “the land that is very far off”; and, further on, descending into a valley shadowed by clouds and darkness. At one time, it runs along amidst steep places, and overhanging rocks; at another time, it winds across an open plain, brilliant with the sunshine of goodness and mercy, and fanned by breezes which are wafted from the fields of Heaven.
There are flowers of joy and love growing all along the way, even in the dark places; and “trees which the Lord has planted,” give shade and shelter from too great heat.
I can see two pilgrims treading this highway of life together, hand in hand—heart linked to heart. True, they have had rivers to ford, and mountains to cross, and fierce enemies to fight, and many dangers to go through; but their Guide was watchful, their Deliverer unfailing, and of them it might truly be said, “In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”
Mostly, they went on their way singing; and for one of them, at least, there was no joy greater than to tell others of the grace and glory of the blessed King to whose land He was hastening. And when he thus spoke, the power of the Lord was seen, and the angels rejoiced over repenting sinners.
But, at last, they came to a place on the road where two ways met; and here, amidst the terrors of a storm such as they had never before encountered, they parted company—the one being caught up to the invisible glory—the other, battered and bruised by the awful tempest, henceforth toiling along the road—alone.
But the “goodness and mercy” which, for so many years, had followed the two travelers, did not leave the solitary one; rather did the tenderness of the Lord “lead on softly,” and choose green pastures for the tired feet, and still waters for the solace and refreshment of His trembling child. He gave, moreover, into her hands a solemn charge—to help fellow-pilgrims along the road, filling her life with blessed interest, and healing her own deep sorrow by giving her power to relieve and comfort others.
“With Christ—which is far better!” Philippians 1:23.
Ever since the solemn midnight hour when God took to Himself my most precious treasure, “the desire of my eyes,” my loving and dearly-beloved husband—the above inspired words have been a wellspring of solace and comfort to my desolate heart. In the first anguish of my grief, I wrote them on the “farewell” card, and the palm-branches, which waved over his dead body in token of everlasting victory, bore their grand message of consolation to the thousands of weeping mourners.
Now, as the days go by, and the sense of loss deepens, and is still more acutely realized, the blessed fact set forth by these words comes again with Divine power of healing to my sorrowing soul. It is because it is far better for him to be with Christ—that I can patiently and even cheerfully endure my lonely life. I can sometimes dwell with such joy on the thought of his eternal glory “with Christ,” that I forget to sorrow over my own great and unspeakable loss.
A dear friend wrote thus to me, the other day—”Oh, when I think of him, as able to praise his Savior, and preach without fatigue or pain—no longer limping, or leaning on his staff—with no cough, no faintness—no swollen fingers or ankles—away from the fogs and mists; where no heresies distress his heart; when I think of him thus, my heart fairly leaps for joy!”
Yes, faith can truly exult in our beloved’s glory.
Online Source: GraceGems