The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Submission to the Lord's will under bereavement

"But Aaron remained silent." Leviticus 10:3

To Miss M., December 31, 1850.
My beloved friend,
It is with much hesitation and considerable delicacy of feeling that I now address you, fearing to add to the grief of an already wounded heart. But yet I know not how to be silent towards you, now that your troubled spirit is the subject of new sorrow from the loss of one much beloved. I know that sometimes anguish is too deep to bear the touch of human sympathy, and that there are cases which only He can reach who gave to the heart its sensibilities, and who can quell its most violent throbbings, or speak peace to its most agitated and distracted emotions. This I once very sensibly experienced under a most painful bereavement. It was the death of a half-brother whom I loved, and that death occasioned or accelerated, it was feared, by his own imprudence. My feelings were harrowed because of the state of my poor brother's soul, and my heart was agonized with self-accusation for not being sufficiently faithful to him, though I had used my poor powers in the way of warning. But now he was gone without hope, I felt all was distraction; and nothing that was said could remove or soothe my anguish, until, with power never to be forgotten, these words were sounded in my soul, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" With them came a great calm and a solemn submission to the Divine sovereignty. It was something like Aaron's silence, when his two sons had been cut off by immediate judgment from the Lord. There seemed no alleviation to his natural feelings—but everything to aggravate grief; yet grace prevailed above nature, and, absorbed in the Divine will, his soul seemed to anchor on the Rock while wave and billow went over him. The Lord's wonders are seen in the deep, and He can do as great miracles by supporting under, as by preserving from, peculiar trials.

Excuse me for speaking thus. These things may be very inapplicable to your sorrow; but of whatever nature are the circumstances of our trial, nothing is so truly quieting as being enabled to bow to our Father's will, and take the cup immediately from His hand. No events take Him by surprise. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?" When useful, amiable, and valued lives are unexpectedly cut off we marvel; but though deep the mysteries of Jehovah's permissive will--far too deep for us to fathom--yet these things do not happen by chance. We see this in the case of Job, whose children were all cut off by Satan's agency—but not without Divine permission. He, recognizing as in a Father's hand the sword which had slain his earthly comforts, said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." While most puzzled by the Lord's providential movements, and writhing under the smart of bereavement, it is most soothing and blessed to be enabled by the Spirit to feel, "Father, Your will be done." "Father, glorify Your name." Oh that our precious Jesus may draw near and bind up your bleeding heart, yes, all your hearts; and may He administer His strong consolations and cordials, as He is accustomed to do in times of special need!

To yourself, my beloved friend, may He be very gracious, giving you even this "valley of Achor for a door of hope." May He keep Satan from gaining advantage, and you from giving place to him. He will provoke to fretfulness—but may the Lord rebuke him, and give you to feel and say, "I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me." (Ps.119:75) Very sweet is Heb. 12:5-9. Finally, may the Lord sanctify this stroke, and "honey" yet "be found in the end of the rod;" and though the grape seems very, very sour, yet may there be "a blessing in it."

I would commit you to Him who can make all grace to abound towards you in support, comfort, and deliverance.

Kindly excuse this, and believe me, with tenderest sympathy, yours very affectionately,
R. Bryan