Ellen G. White — Messenger to the Remnant

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The Ministry of Suffering

It is well known that some of the world’s masterpieces of literature, of poetry, and of gospel hymns have been fashioned on the anvil of pain, and so it was with a part of Mrs. White’s writings on the life and ministry of Jesus. Some of the choicest passages in The Desire of Ages came from her pen when she was confined not only to her room, but much of the time to her bed or to her writing chair fitted with an adjustable rest for her painracked arm. Soon after she reached Australia, she began to suffer with inflammatory rheumatism, and for eleven months was in constant pain. Of this experience she wrote: EGWMR 59.6

“I have been passing through great trial in pain and suffering and helplessness, but through it all I have obtained a precious experience more valuable to me than gold.”[—Letter 7, 1892.] EGWMR 59.7

Released at last from the sickroom, Mrs. White was called upon to enter more fully into the rapidly developing work in Australia, and the many calls for her counsel and assistance, in addition to her extensive correspondence, greatly hindered the progress of the work on The Desire of Ages. In a letter written October 23, 1895, she says: EGWMR 59.8

“I have about decided to ... devote all my time to writing for the books that ought to be prepared without further delay. I would like to write on the Life of Christ, on Christian Temperance [Ministry of Healing] and prepare Testimony Number 34 [Volume VI], for it is very much needed.... You know that my whole theme, both in the pulpit and in private, by voice and pen, is the life of Christ.”—Letter 41, 1895. EGWMR 59.9

Some have marveled at the extraordinary beauty of the language in The Desire of Ages. The last sentence of the foregoing letter, in stating that this was her favorite theme, suggests the reason for the beautiful phraseology of the book. EGWMR 59.10

In the preparation of The Desire of Ages as in the preparation of other later publications, Mrs. White did not write the book straight through, chapter by chapter, in the order in which the chapters appeared in printed form. This was not necessary, for during the preceding thirty-five years she had written many hundreds of pages on this theme, much of which had already been published. With this background of material, she instructed those who were employed as her helpers to gather from her published books, articles, letters, and manuscripts what they could find on the subject. With this in hand, she wrote many additional articles as the experiences of Christ were opened anew to her. When these newly written passages, together with what she had written in former years, were grouped in their natural order, she again studied the story in its connection and sometimes added connecting events. EGWMR 59.11

Her writings on the life and teachings of our Saviour were found to be so voluminous that they could not all be contained in one book. Therefore some of the material which could not be included in The Desire of Ages was used as material for Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, Christ’s Object Lessons, and a portion of Ministry of Healing. EGWMR 59.12