You Will Not Mind the Roughness
by J. R. Miller, 1912
Sometimes there is inscrutable mystery in the difficult experiences through which godly people are led.
A few years ago a happy young couple came from the marriage altar, full of hope and joy. Their home was bright with love. A year later a baby came and was welcomed with great gladness. From the beginning, however, the little one was a sufferer. She was taken to one of the best physicians in the land. After careful examination, his decision was that her condition is absolutely hopeless. Until that moment the mother had still hoped that her child might sometime be cured. Now she understands that however long she may live, she will never be any better. "What shall I do? What can I do? How can God help me?" was the mother's question. What comfort can we give to such mothers as this?
Yes, it is hard to look upon the child's condition, so pathetic, so pitiful, and to remember the doctor's words: "Absolutely hopeless!" Is there any comfort for this condition? Can this mother say that God is leading her in the path of life? Is this experience of suffering, part of that path? Does God know about the long struggle of this mother? Does he know what the doctor said? Yes—he knows all. Has he then no power to do anything? Yes—he has all power. Why, then, does he not cure this child? We may not try to answer. We do not know God's reasons. Yet we know it is all right. What good can possibly come from this child's condition, and from the continuation of this painful condition year after year? We do not know. Perhaps perhaps it is for the sake of the mother and father, who are being led through these years of anguish, disappointment and sorrow. Many people suffer for the sake of others, and we know at least that these parents are receiving a training in unselfishness, in gentleness, in patience, in trust.
Perhaps this painful experience in their child is to make them richer-hearted. The disciples asked the Master, "Why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins or those of his parents?" "It was not because of his sins or his parents' sins. He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him." May it not be, that this child's suffering finds its justification in the ministry of love it has called out in the father and mother? They are being prepared for a blessed service to other suffering ones. Perhaps in eternity, they will learn that they owe to their child's suffering, much of the beauty of Christ which grew into their characters.
In one of the lace shops of Brussels there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate lace patterns. The rooms are left altogether dark, except for the light that comes from one very small window. There is only one spinner in each room, and he sits where a narrow stream of light falls from the window directly upon the threads he is weaving. "Thus," says the guide, "do we secure our choicest products. The lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven, when the worker himself sits in the dark and only his pattern is in the light." May it not be the same with us in our weaving? Sometimes we must work in the dark. We cannot see or understand what we are doing. We cannot discover any possible good in our painful experience. Yet, if only we are faithful, we shall some day learn that the most exquisite work of our life was done in those very dark days.
Let us never be afraid, however great our sufferings, however dark life is. Let us go on in faith and love, never doubting, not even asking why, bearing our pain and learning to sing while we suffer. God is watching, and he will bring good and beauty out of all our suffering. We must remember that it is "the path of life" that God is showing us. He never leads us in any other path. If we are prompted to go in some evil way, we may be sure that it is not God's way for us. He leads us only in paths of life. They may be steep and rough—but the end will be blessed and glorious—and in our joy we will forget the briers and thorns on the way!
There are days when you do not know what to do. You have perplexities, doubts, uncertainties. You lie awake half the night wondering what you ought to do. Something has gone wrong in your affairs, in your relations with a friend, or in your home life. Or, one near to you is suffering and you want to help—but you do not know what to do. Your days are full of questions. Instead of vexing yourself, just go to Him who is infinitely wise and say: "Show me the path!" and He will.
There is something else. It is told of Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, that he was one night going to prayer in a distant church, barefoot, over the snow and ice; and his servant, Podavivus, following him, imitating his master's devotion, grew faint. "Follow me," said the king; "set your feet in the prints of mine." That is what our Master says when we grow weary in the hard way, when the thorns pierce our feet, or when the path grows rough or steep: "Follow me. Put your feet into my footprints! It is but a little way home!"