The Review and Herald


November 1, 1881

Cheerfulness in Affliction


August 22, in company with my daughters, Emma and Mary K. White, I left Battle Creek for the West, hoping to receive benefit from a change of climate. Though still suffering from the effects of a severe attack of malarial fever, as well as from the shock of my husband's death, I endured the journey better than I had expected. We reached Boulder, Colorado, on Thursday, August 25, and on the following Sunday left that place by private carriage for our home in the mountains. RH November 1, 1881, par. 1

Here the clear, cool air, and the pure water, fresh from living springs, seemed to promise renewed health and vigor. But the altitude was too great, and in a short time I was again prostrated. It was nearly a week before my strength began slowly to return. The action of the heart seemed retarded, and breathing was difficult. Yet, suffering as I did from pain and weakness, I enjoyed the quiet solitude of the mountains. The solemn stillness reigning there seemed to accord with my feelings. RH November 1, 1881, par. 2

From our cottage I could look out upon a forest of young pines, so fresh and fragrant that the air was perfumed with their spicy odor. In former years, my husband and myself made this grove our sanctuary. Among these mountains we often bowed together in worship and supplication. All around me were the places which had been thus hallowed; and as I gazed upon them, I could recall many instances in which we there received direct and remarkable answers to prayer. Light from Heaven shone upon us, and we many times obtained clear indications of duty. The presence of Christ seemed to be with us, and his voice spoke to our hearts, “Peace be unto you.” RH November 1, 1881, par. 3

With my husband I have stood on some lofty height, and looked upon the mountains rising peak above peak, until our souls were thrilled with a sense of God's majesty and power. At evening we delighted to look up to the blue heavens inlaid with glittering stars; and while thus beholding the splendors of the visible universe, we acknowledged with reverent awe that all was the handiwork of the Most High. We rejoiced that the God of creation is the God of the Bible, and that we can claim this infinite Being as our Father. We talked of the glories of his power and wisdom, and adored the matchless love which has made it possible, through Jesus Christ, for fallen man to become a son and heir of the Maker and Sovereign of the universe. RH November 1, 1881, par. 4

How near we seemed to God, as in the clear moonlight we bowed upon some lonely mountainside to ask for needed blessings at his hand! What faith and confidence were ours! God's purposes of love and mercy seemed more fully revealed, and we felt the assurance that our sins and errors were pardoned. Upon such occasions I have seen my husband's countenance lighted up with a radiance that seemed reflected from the throne of God, as in changed voice he praised the Lord for the rich blessings of his grace. Amid earth's gloom and darkness, we could still discern on every hand gleams of brightness from the Fount of light. Through the works of creation we communed with Him who inhabiteth eternity. As we looked upon the towering rocks, the lofty mountains, we exclaimed, Who is so great a God as our God? RH November 1, 1881, par. 5

Surrounded, as we often were, with difficulties, burdened with responsibilities, finite, weak, erring mortals at best, we were at times almost ready to yield to despair. But when we considered God's love and care for his creatures, as revealed both in the book of nature and on the pages of inspiration, our hearts were comforted and strengthened. Surrounded by the evidences of God's power, and overshadowed by his presence, we could not cherish distrust or unbelief. Oh, how often have peace, and hope, and even joy, come to us in our experience amid these rocky solitudes! RH November 1, 1881, par. 6

Again I have been among the mountains, but alone. None to share my thoughts and feelings as I looked once more upon those grand and awful scenes! Alone, alone! God's dealings seem mysterious, his purposes unfathomable; yet I know that they must be just, and wise, and merciful. It is my privilege and my duty to wait patiently for him, the language of my heart at all times being, “He doeth all things well.” RH November 1, 1881, par. 7

I had no strength now to climb the mountain steeps. If I desired to acknowledge God's mercies, I could not repair to the forest or the cliffs. If I would seek wisdom from above, I must make my room my sanctuary. But even here I have enjoyed sweet communion with God, and have received precious tokens of his abiding presence. RH November 1, 1881, par. 8

In my recent bereavement, I have had a near view of eternity. I have, as it were, been brought before the great white throne, and have seen my life as it will there appear. I can find nothing of which to boast, no merit that I can plead. “Unworthy, unworthy of the least of thy favors, O my God,” is my cry. My only hope is in a crucified and risen Saviour. I claim the merits of the blood of Christ. Jesus will save to the uttermost all who put their trust in him. RH November 1, 1881, par. 9

It is sometimes hard for me to preserve a cheerful countenance when my heart is rent with anguish. But I would not permit my sorrow to cast a gloom upon all around me. Seasons of affliction and bereavement are often rendered more sorrowful and distressing than they should be, because it is customary to give ourselves up to mourning without restraint. By the help of Jesus, I determined to shun this evil; but my resolution has been severely tested. My husband's death was a heavy blow to me, more keenly felt because so sudden. As I saw the seal of death upon his countenance, my feelings were almost insupportable. I longed to cry out in my anguish. But I knew that this could not save the life of my loved one, and I felt that it would be unchristian to give myself up to sorrow. I sought help and comfort from above, and the promises of God were verified to me. The Lord's hand sustained me. It is a sin to indulge, without restraint, in mourning and lamentation. By the grace of Christ, we may be composed and even cheerful under sore trial. RH November 1, 1881, par. 10

Let us learn a lesson of courage and fortitude from the last interview of Christ with his apostles. They were about to be separated. Our Saviour was entering the blood-stained path which would lead him to Calvary. Never was scene more trying than that through which he was soon to pass. The apostles had heard the words of Christ foretelling his sufferings and death, and their hearts were heavy with sorrow, their minds distracted with doubt and fear. Yet there were no loud outcries; there was no abandonment of grief. Those last solemn, momentous hours were spent by our Saviour in speaking words of comfort and assurance to his disciples, and then all united in a hymn of praise. RH November 1, 1881, par. 11

Instead of expressing the sadness of their hearts by the mournful measure of some solemn lament, they sung, as was customary on that occasion, the joyful Hallel, which abounded in expressions of faith, of gratitude, and of lofty praise: “The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted. The right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” What a prelude to the agony in Gethsemane, the abuse and mockery of the judgment hall, and the awful scenes of Calvary, were those last hours spent in chanting the praises of the Most High! RH November 1, 1881, par. 12

When Martin Luther received discouraging news, he would often say, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth psalm.” This psalm commences with the words, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” Instead of mourning, weeping, and despairing, when troubles gather about us like a flood and threaten to overwhelm us, if we would not only pray for help from God, but would praise him for so many blessings left,—praise him that he is able to help us,—our course would be more pleasing to him, and we would see more of his salvation. RH November 1, 1881, par. 13

When difficulties and trials surround us, we should flee to God, and confidently expect help from Him who is mighty to save and strong to deliver. We must ask for God's blessing if we would receive it. Prayer is a duty and a necessity; but do we not neglect praise? Should we not oftener render thanksgiving to the Giver of all our blessings? We need to cultivate gratitude. We should frequently contemplate and recount the mercies of God, and laud and glorify his holy name, even when we are passing through sorrow and affliction. RH November 1, 1881, par. 14

On approaching the chamber where a husband and father had just breathed his last, we would be filled with astonishment to hear, not the voice of mourning, the melancholy strains of some funeral chant, but a song of sacred praise, joyous and triumphant as the Passover Hallel. Surely, the widow and fatherless would be deemed lacking in affection for the departed. Yet how could these afflicted ones, who have lost their staff and counselor, and who must now lean more entirely upon God—how could they more surely brace their souls for danger and conflict than by calling to mind what their Heavenly Father has done for them, how he has proved himself a present help in time of trouble? RH November 1, 1881, par. 15

The Lord's merciful kindness is great toward us. He will never leave nor forsake those who trust in him. If we would think and talk less of our trials, and more of the mercy and goodness of God, we would find ourselves raised above much of our gloom and perplexity. My brethren and sisters, you who feel that you are entering upon a dark path, and like the captives in Babylon must hang your harps upon the willows, let us make trial of cheerful song. You may say, How can I sing, with this dark prospect before me, with this burden of sorrow and bereavement upon my soul? But have earthly sorrows deprived us of the all-powerful Friend we have in Jesus? Should not the marvelous love of God in the gift of his dear Son be a theme of continual rejoicing? When we bring our petitions to the throne of grace, let us not forget to offer also anthems of thanksgiving. “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth God.” As long as our Saviour lives, we have cause for unceasing gratitude and praise. RH November 1, 1881, par. 16