The Master saw that you needed a fitness for His heavenly kingdom. He did not leave you in the furnace for the fire of affliction to consume. As a refiner and purifier of silver, He kept His eye upon you, watching the process of purification until He should discern His image reflected in you. Although you have often felt affliction’s flame kindling upon you, and at times have thought it would consume you, yet the loving-kindness of God has been just as great toward you at these times as when you were free in spirit and triumphing in Him. The furnace was to purify and refine, but not to consume and destroy.
I saw you struggling with poverty, seeking to support yourself and your children. Many times you knew not what to do; the future looked dark and uncertain. In your distress you cried unto the Lord, and He comforted and helped you, and hopeful rays of light shone around you. How precious was God to you at such times! how sweet His comforting love! You felt that you had a precious treasure laid up in heaven. As you viewed the reward of the afflicted children of God, what a consolation to feel that you could claim Him as your Father!
Your case was, in reality, worse than if you had been widowed. Your heart was agonized by the wicked course pursued by your husband. But his persecutions, his threats and violence, did not lead you to trust in your own wisdom, and forget God. Far from this; you sensibly felt your weakness and that you were incapable of carrying your burdens, and in your conscious weakness you were relieved by bringing your heavy burdens to Jesus, the great Burden Bearer. How you cherished every ray of light from His presence! and how strong you often felt in His strength! When a storm of persecution and cruelty unexpectedly burst upon you, the Lord did not suffer you to be overwhelmed; but in those times of trial you realized strength, calmness, and peace, which were a marvel to you.
When railing accusations and taunts more cruel than spears and arrows have fallen upon you, the influence of the Spirit of God upon your heart has led you to speak calmly, dispassionately. It was not in nature to do this. It was the fruit of the Spirit of God. It was the grace of God which strengthened your faith amid all the heartsicknesses of hope deferred. Grace fortified you for the warfare and hardships, and brought you through conqueror. Grace taught you to pray, to love and trust, notwithstanding your unfavorable surroundings. As you repeatedly realized that your prayers were answered in a special manner, you did not feel that it was because of any merit in yourself, but because of your great need. Your necessity was God’s opportunity. Your life in those days of trial was to trust in God. And the manifestations of His special deliverance when in most trying places were like the oasis in the desert to the faint and weary traveler.
The Lord did not leave you to perish. He frequently raised up friends to aid you when you least expected it. Angels of God ministered unto you, as step by step they led you up the rugged pathway. You were pressed by poverty, but this was the least of the difficulties with which you had to contend. When N exercised his power to abuse and harm you, you felt that the cup you had to drink was bitter indeed; and when he degraded himself to pursue a course of iniquity, and you were outraged and insulted in your own house, he made a gulf between himself and you which could never be passed. Then in your sore distress and perplexity the Lord raised you up friends. He did not leave you alone; but His strength was imparted, and you could say: “The Lord is my helper.”
Through all your trials, which have never been fully revealed to others, you have had a never-failing Friend, who has said: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” While upon the earth, He was ever touched with human woe. Although He is now ascended to His Father, and is adored by angels who quickly obey His commands, His heart, which loved, pitied, and sympathized, knows no change. It remains a heart of unchangeable tenderness still. That same Jesus was acquainted with all your trials, and did not leave you alone to struggle with temptations, battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. Through His angels He whispered to you: “‘Fear not, for I am with thee.’ ‘I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.’ I know your sorrows; I have endured them. I am acquainted with your struggles; I have experienced them. I know your temptations; I have encountered them. I have seen your tears; I also have wept. Your earthly hopes are crushed; but let the eye of faith be uplifted and penetrate the veil, and there anchor your hopes. The everlasting assurance shall be yours that you have a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
O my dear sister, if you could only see, as I have seen, the ways and works of God manifested all through your perplexities and trials in the former part of your experience, when pressed by the hand of poverty, you could never forget Him, but your love would increase, and your zeal to promote His glory be untiring.
In consequence of your afflictions and peculiar trials, your health failed. The friends of the cause of God were but few, and many of them were poor; and you could see but little to hope for on the right hand or on the left. You looked upon your children and your destitute, helpless condition, and your heart well-nigh fainted. At this time, through the influence of Adventists who had united with the Shakers, and in whom you had confidence because they had been your friends in time of need, you were induced to go among that sect for a time. But the angels of God did not leave you. They ministered unto you and were as a wall of fire round about you. Especially did the holy angels protect you from the deceptive influences which prevail among that people. The Shakers believed that you would unite your interest with theirs; and they thought that if they could induce you to become one of them, you would be a great help to their cause; for you would make an ardent member of their society. They would have given you a high position among them. Some of the Shakers had received spiritual manifestations, telling them that you were designed of God to be a prominent member of their society; but that you were one who should not be urged; that kindness would have a powerful influence where force or pressure would cause a failure of their hopes.
Magnetism was exercised among them in a powerful manner. Through this power they flattered themselves that you would be brought to view things in the same light in which they viewed them. You were not aware of all the arts and deception used to bring about their purpose. The Lord preserved you. There seemed to be a circle of light round about you, proceeding from the ministering angels, so that the darkness which prevailed about you did not cloud the circle of light. The Lord opened the way for you to leave that deceived community, and you left unharmed, the principles of your faith as pure as when you went among them.
Your diseased arm was a great affliction. You had turned to the right and to the left for help. You had consented to have a woman try her boasted skill upon you. This woman was a special agent of Satan. Through her experiments, you nearly lost your life. The poison introduced into your system was sufficient to kill a person of the most robust constitution. Here again God interposed, or your life would have been sacrificed.
Every means you had resorted to for the recovery of health had failed. Not only your arm, but your entire system, was diseased. Your lungs were affected, and you were fast going down to death. At this time you felt that God alone could deliver. You could do one thing more; you could follow the direction of the apostle in the fifth chapter of James. You there made a covenant with God, that if He would spare your life to minister still to the wants of your children, you would be for the Lord, and Him only would you serve; you would dedicate your life to His glory; you would use your strength to advance His cause and to do good in the earth. Angels recorded the promise there made to God.
We came to you in your great affliction and claimed the promise of God in your behalf. We dared not look to appearances; for in so doing we should be like Peter, whom the Lord bade come to Him on the water. He should have kept his eye lifted upward to Jesus; but he looked down at the troubled waves, and his faith failed. We calmly and firmly grasped the promises of God alone, irrespective of appearances, and by faith claimed the blessing. I was especially shown that God wrought in a wonderful manner, and you were preserved by a miracle of mercy, to be a living monument of His healing power, to testify of His wondrous works to the children of men.
At the time you felt such a decided change, your captivity was turned, and joy and gladness in the place of doubt and distress filled your heart. The praise of God was in your heart and upon your lips. “Oh, what hath the Lord wrought!” was the sentiment of your soul. The Lord heard the prayers of His servants, and raised you up to still live and endure trials, to watch and wait for His appearing, and to glorify His name. Poverty and care pressed heavily upon you. As dark clouds at times enshrouded you, you could not forbear inquiring: “O God, hast Thou forsaken me?” But you were not forsaken, although you could see no way open before you. The Lord would have you trust in His love and mercy amid clouds and darkness, as well as in the sunshine. At times the clouds would part, and beams of light would shine through to strengthen your desponding heart and increase your wavering confidence, and you would again fix your trembling faith upon the sure promises of your heavenly Father. You would involuntarily cry out: “O God, I will believe; I will trust in Thee. Thou hast hitherto been my helper, and Thou wilt not leave me now.”
As victory was gained by you, and light again shone upon you, you could not find language to express your sincere gratitude to your gracious heavenly Father; and you thought you never again would doubt His love nor distrust His care. You did not seek for ease. You did not consider hard labor a burden if the way would only open that you might care for your children and shield them from the iniquity prevailing in this age of the world. It was the burden of your heart that you might see them turning to the Lord. You pleaded before God for your children with strong cries and tears. Their conversion you so much desired. Sometimes your heart would despond and faint, and you would fear that your prayers would not be answered; then again you would consecrate your children to God afresh, and your yearning heart would lay them anew upon the altar.
When they went into the army, your prayers followed them. They were wonderfully preserved from harm. They called it good luck; but a mother’s prayers from an anxious, burdened soul, as she felt the peril of her children and the danger of their being cut off in their youth without hope in God, had much to do with their preservation. How many prayers were lodged in heaven that these sons might be preserved to obey God, to devote their lives to His glory! In your anxiety for your children you pleaded with God to return them to you again, and you would seek more earnestly to lead them in the path of holiness. You thought you would labor more faithfully than you had ever done.
The Lord suffered you to be schooled in adversity and affliction, that you might obtain an experience which would be valuable to yourself and others. In the days of your poverty and trial you loved the Lord, and you loved religious privileges. The nearness of Christ’s coming was your consolation. It was a living hope to you that you would soon find rest from labor, and the end of all your trials; when you would find that you had not labored nor suffered too much; for the apostle Paul declares: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
To meet with the people of God seemed to you almost like visiting heaven. Obstacles did not deter you. You could suffer weariness and hunger for temporal food, but you could not be deprived of spiritual food. You earnestly sought for the grace of God, and you did not seek in vain. Communion with the people of God was the richest blessing you could enjoy.
In your Christian experience your soul abhorred vanity, pride, and extravagant show. When you have witnessed the expenditure of means among professed Christians to make a display and to foster pride, your heart and lips have said: “Oh, if I only had the means handled by those who are unfaithful in their stewardship, I would feel it one of the greatest privileges to help the needy and to aid in the advancement of the cause of God!”
You often realized the presence of God while you sought in your humble way to enlighten others in regard to the truth for these last days. You had experienced the truth for yourself. That which you had seen, and heard, and experienced, and testified unto, you knew was no fiction. You delighted to present before others, in private conversation, the wonderful way in which God had led His people. You recounted His dealings with such an assurance as to strike conviction to the hearts of those who listened to you. You talked as though you had a knowledge of the things whereof you affirmed. When speaking to others in regard to the present truth, you longed for greater opportunities and a more extended influence, that you might bring to the notice of many in darkness the light which had lightened your pathway. At times you looked at your poverty, your limited influence, and your best endeavors, frequently misinterpreted by the professed friends of the cause of truth, and you were nearly discouraged.
Sometimes in your unsettled state you erred in judgment, and there were those who should have possessed that charity which thinketh no evil, who watched, and surmised evil, and made the most of the errors they thought they saw in you. But the love and tender pity of Jesus were not withdrawn; they were your support amid the trials and persecutions of your life. The kingdom of heaven and the righteousness of Christ were primary with you. Your life was marred with imperfections, because it is human to err; but from what the Lord has been pleased to show me of your discouraging surroundings in the days of your poverty and trial, I know of no one who would have pursued a course more free from mistakes than you did, were they situated as you were, in poverty and embarrassing trials. It is easy for those who are spared the severe trials to which others are subjected, to look on and question, and surmise evil and find fault. Some are more ready to censure others for pursuing a certain course than to take the responsibility of saying what should be done, or of pointing out a more correct way.
You became confused. You knew not where to trust. There were but few Sabbathkeepers in —– and vicinity who exerted a saving influence. Some who professed the faith were no honor to the cause of present truth. They did not gather with Christ, but scattered abroad. They could talk loud and long; yet their hearts were not in the work. They were not sanctified by the truth they professed. These, not having root in themselves, gave up the faith. Had they done this at an earlier period, it would have been better for the cause of truth. In consequence of these things, Satan took advantage of you and prepared the way for your backsliding.
My attention was called to your desire to possess means. The sentiment of your heart was: “Oh, if I only had means, I would not squander it! I would set an example to those who are close and penurious. I would show them the great blessing there is to be received in doing good.” Your soul abhorred covetousness. As you have seen those who possessed abundance of this world’s goods shut their hearts to the cry of the needy you have said: “God will visit them; He will reward them according to their works.” As you have seen the wealthy walking in their pride, their hearts girt about with selfishness, as with iron bands, you have felt that they were poorer than yourself, although you were in want and suffering. When you have seen these purse-proud men bearing themselves loftily because money has power, you have felt pity for them, and in no case would you have been induced to change places with them. Yet you desired means that you might so use it as to be a rebuke to the covetous.
The Lord said to His angel who had hitherto ministered unto you: “I have proved her in poverty and affliction, and she has not separated herself from Me, nor rebelled against Me. I will now prove her with prosperity. I will reveal to her a page of the human heart with which she is unacquainted. I will show her that money is the most dangerous foe she has ever met. I will reveal to her the deceitfulness of riches; that they are a snare, even to those who feel that they are secure from selfishness, and proof against exaltation, extravagance, pride, and love of the praise of men.”
I was then shown that a way was opened for you to improve your condition in life and at length to obtain the means which you had thought you would use with wisdom and to the glory of God. How anxiously did your ministering angel watch the new trial to see how you would stand the test. As means came into your hands, I saw you gradually and almost imperceptibly separating from God. The means entrusted to you were expended for your own convenience, to surround yourself with the good things of this life. I saw the angels looking upon you with yearning sadness, their faces half averted, loath to leave you. Yet their presence was not perceived by you, and your course was pursued without reference to your angel guard.
The business and cares of your new position claimed your time and attention, and your duty to God was not considered. Jesus had purchased you by His own blood. You were not your own. Your time, your strength, and the means you handled all belonged to your Redeemer. He had been your constant Friend, your strength and support when every other friend had proved a broken reed. You have repaid the love and bounty of God with ingratitude and forgetfulness.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2 pp. 269-278