The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

The triumph of faith over difficulties

To E. M.,

I had a nice time this wet evening in musing on the subject of living faith, and the Word of the Lord. It is a true Wordóbut also a tried Word. When a promise is given, it certainly will be fulfilled; but we are sure to come into circumstances to try it, and try our faith in it. The Lord promised a son to Abraham and Sarahóbut what years elapsed for the trial of faith before his birth; and when the son was given; what a fiery trial to take him up to Mount Moriah for a burnt-offering. Could faith live upon its prospects through such a trial? And could the promise stand sure amidst such apparent contradictions? Yes, indeed! "He was faithful who promised;" and He enabled faith to rest in the promise, even when the shadows of death had fallen so heavily upon it: and we know that faith was not disappointed.

Again, He promised the land of Canaan to Abraham's seed; but see what came between, what bondage and hard service in Egypt, what ups and downs in the wilderness. But faith was kept alive in some hearts: see Joseph's command concerning his bones, (Gen. 50:25) and Joshua and Caleb's noble testimony in the face of all difficulties and opposition. (Num. 14:8, 9) What their faith expected came fully to pass: see Joshua 21:43-45.

Again, David was anointed king, and the kingdom was promised to him; but see how faith was tried when he was hunted by Saul like a partridge upon the mountains, when he was a stranger in Gath, and, when like a homeless wanderer, he was sheltered with his men in the cave of Adullam; yet he was still a king in the Divine purpose, and at the set time he possessed the kingdom. And thus throughout the Word and in our own experience, we find how faith and the promise have been sharply tried, providentially and spiritually. The Lord may seem to have given us a promise; faith and hope may have been drawn out to expect it; and the Word may quite warrant it; but it has to go into the fire before fulfillment, as it was with our fathers.

If the case be a spiritual one, the soul hopes for deliverance, watches for it, and has at times a sweet pledge thereof; but yet it comes not, and again seems to be as far off as ever. The soul looks for lightóbut beholds darkness; for peaceóbut beholds evil. This is a hard lessonóbut it is the way of faith, and leads to the city which has foundations. See what apparent contradictions the worthies of old had to endure; how contrary to flesh and sense were the Lord's dealings with them. But as surely as the promised seed was born unto Abraham; and as surely as his children inherited the promised land; and as surely as David sat upon the throne of Israel--so surely shall the soul which the Holy Spirit is exercising with the hard things of its nature's evils, find the end better than the beginning. Having had the face of desire turned toward the land of Canaan, it shall, in due time, surely enter there, and prove the difference between bondage and liberty, though now all these things seem against it.