Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Lt 37, 1892

White, J. E.; White, Emma

North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

March 9, 1892

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 134.

Dear Children,

I have not been able to use my pen but a very little. My arms are almost helpless, my hips the same, and my knees are painful. I make not a movement of my body without suffering. Some say I have had a run of rheumatic fever. I think it must be so; but when will it all end? I have taken six very powerful electric baths, and can walk a little better. I get but very little sleep. How thankful I am that I brought my bed lounge that Willie purchased of Edson, and I purchased of Willie. There is not one like it in all this country. I can lie only on my back, while beneath my limbs is placed an air rubber pillow. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 1

I will give you the items of my nightly program: In bed at night, find after sleeping about one hour I must get up, straighten my limbs, walk the room. Then I lie on the lounge which is cool and have a little sleep. At eleven p.m. go through the same process, walk the floor, work my arms and limbs as best I can, lie in the bed until 12 p.m. Then I sleep most of the hour; then with considerable pain and exertion I arise and walk the room again, exchange my bed for the lounge. About one hour is the time I can lie with any comfort. I obtained a little more sleep than usual last night toward morning. I dread to sit in the chair, for it is such a painful process for me to rise. I am now writing sitting on the bed with limbs straightened out. I can endure this about an hour, and then will have to change my position. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 2

This is the history of my condition for the last two months. I have spoken to the people the last three Sabbaths, but can not kneel, and can scarcely stand. I dare not give up to this affliction, fearing I shall be entirely helpless. Every day I present my case to the Lord, and believe that help will come. I will not murmur or complain. I will pray; I will believe; I will be cheerful, although it requires strong power of self control. The grace given me of God is my only dependence. I cannot sew, I cannot knit. I can read some; I can write some; for this I am very thankful. I think of Sister Lizzie’s sufferings, and pray that the Lord save me from suffering as she did. I can ride without pain, but when I have to leave [the] phaeton, it requires the help of May, and sometimes the help of another, to get me into the house. I have much time for reflection. “It is good that a man should both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” [Lamentations 3:26.] 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 3

There are precious promises in the Scriptures to those who wait upon the Lord. We all desire an immediate answer to our prayers, and we are tempted to become discouraged if our prayer is not immediately answered. Now, my experience has taught me that this is a great mistake. The delay is for our special benefit. Our faith has a chance to be tested to see whether it is true, sincere, or changeable like the waves of the sea. We must bind ourselves upon the altar with the strong cords of faith and love, and let patience have her perfect work. Faith strengthens through continual exercise. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 4

This waiting does not mean that because we ask the Lord to heal there is nothing for us to do. [An original page is missing here, and the material in brackets that follows is taken from Ms 29, 1911, which includes a later recopying of portions of this letter.] We are to [make the best use of the means for recovery which the Lord in His goodness has provided. Since I have been confined to my bed, I have not been idle. I have looked to God in faith, and I have also availed myself of all the hygienic methods of treatment at my command. This was my duty. I have tried to show that I despise none of his gracious provisions. I have used water treatments in a variety of ways, always asking the Lord to bless our efforts. I thank the Lord that He has given me an intelligent knowledge of right principles in regard to eating, drinking, and dressing, and of hygienic methods of treatments. The Lord is good. He has blessed me greatly. He has given me grace to endure suffering, and I am not afraid to commit to Him the keeping of my soul and body. But as a reasonable being, I shall use the means He has provided for the recovery of health. When this sickness came upon me, I should gladly have gone to our sanitarium at Battle Creek or at St. Helena, but this was impossible, and I did the next best thing. I went to a medical institute here in Melbourne and took electric baths. At this institute no drugs are given. Electricity in connection with water is the treatment used.] The rheumatism has such a firm hold upon me however that six powerful baths have not overcome it. I shall continue the treatment, and pray the Lord to give me grace and patience to endure it. I know the Lord hears my prayers, I will trust in God. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 5

I have seen so much of carrying matters to extremes, even in praying for the sick, that I have felt that this part of our experience demands wisdom and much solid, sanctified thinking, else we shall make movements that we shall call faith when it is nothing less than presumption. Persons worn down with affliction need to be counselled wisely, that they may move discreetly, and while they place themselves before God to be prayed for that they may be healed, they are not to take the position that methods of restoration to health in accordance with nature’s laws are to be neglected. If they take the position that in praying for healing they must not use the simple things provided by God to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work lest it be a denial of faith, they are taking an unwise position. It is not a denial of faith; it is in strict harmony with the plans of God. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 6

When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard His servant and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now, one word from God, one touch of the Divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly; but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised up to health. In everything we need to move along the line of God’s providence. The human agent should have faith, and should cooperate with divine power, using every facility, taking advantage of everything that, according to his intelligence, is beneficial, working in harmony with natural laws; and in doing this he neither denies nor hinders faith. 7LtMs, Lt 37, 1892, par. 7