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My Dear Friend:
NEW and overwhelming experience has been thrust upon you. A loved one, whose life was linked to your very soul by ties more sacred and wonderful than any human language or symbol can express, and who walked with you in a sweet companionship, which strengthened, enriched and glorified all your existence, has listened to the call of the silent messenger and passed from your sight, leaving your heart more lonely and desolate than you had ever dared to think possible. Those dear eyes into which you once looked, now give no response to the eager questionings of your soul, and the hand which once clasped yours in tenderest love, now returns no answering pressure.
Some strong one who stood by your side a noble protector, some gentle one, whose sweetness and tender love illumined the whole world and made it beautiful, some precious little one whose sweet baby fingers twined and wove themselves into the sacred inner cords of your heart, in a way which you once thought impossible, or it may be some aged one whose noble life of service has ever been a bulwark to the best that is within you, is with you now no more as in the days gone by. With whatever there is of the past, which you think you would change were you to live it over again, think how wonderfully precious will be its memory now for all the years to come. Here you have a treasure, of which nothing can ever rob you so long as your own life shall last.
My friend, as one who has experienced and borne the burden of a great sorrow like this one which well nigh crushes you, permit me to say this in loving sympathy with you in your bereavement: Do not think of the loved one as dead. There is no death: "Christ hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light."
We change the house in which we live, the clothes which we wear, the country in which we reside, but we remain the same, save to go on to new and higher things in life and experience. This dear one for whom your aching heart now yearns so hungrily has only changed houses, passed from the body which could be afflicted with disease and dissolution, to the glorious body, which is to be free forever from these pains, ailments and imperfections. The fetters of the soul have been broken and thrown aside,
and the prison doors flung wide open, that is all. Nothing else has changed, could have changed, only to get a better vision and possess a less hampered and circumscribed existence. The real life is going on, under sunnier skies, and amid more propitious conditions, than ever could have been possible here. Our own love has not grown cold, but has the rather been deepened and intensified. So it is we must believe with the love of the dear one gone now from earthly sight, for you and for the other dear friends. The interest too, which this departed one had in you and in all those things which were mutually dear to you both, has not necessarily passed away forever. Though some of the things which once worried and perplexed, as well as some things which were held to be of value, are doubtless viewed in a different light, still your loved one is no more lost out of your life, and out of the things which worthily claimed your mutual attention and love, than Christ was lost from the lives and activities of the world which he came to enlighten, when he passed from the physical sight of those who loved and followed him.
And then, too, let not the tears of your sorrow blind your eyes to the great truth that this precious soul of your devotion is not imprisoned in the tomb, to slumber through the long ages of the future, but is "alive with God, forevermore." Our loved ones are not far from us. They are with God, and God is here. They dwell not in some far off sphere, some country resplendent but remote, where they have lost all love and care and interest for those who still toil here in the old ways, but "ever near us tho' unseen, their dear immortal spirits tread."
Let us then not be carried away wholly with our great grief. Think how wonderful God is, how much heavenly love and infinite beauty there must be in the nature of the One able to create souls so beautiful and possessed of so many noble qualities, as you knew in the one who has just been crowned with the supreme experience of this earthly existence. How precious is the thought that He permitted you to have this dear companionship, even for a little while.
Whatever that heaven is to which the friends go when they pass from the ways of this mortal life, from this time on it will ever seem to you nearer and dearer, because of the loved ones there-how the dread which once hung over us, relative to our entering it, disappears, as we remember that this one so greatly loved has gone along that way just ahead of us.
And finally, dear friend, remember this. From that mighty sorrow which now so overwhelms you, something great and beautiful is sure to come into your life, something will enrich and strengthen your soul if you will permit it to do so. Just as when the night is darkest, the stars shine with the greater brilliancy, so out of the black pall of this new and seemingly terrible calamity, you will find if you continue to look upward, new stars of unknown beauty flashing in splendor, to comfort and guide you across the surging sea of life. Look up then, weary, lonely, sorrowing soul, and you will see them, and remember this, that back of them, and about you is God. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." Trust then, dear friend, the Source of all life, and nothing will ever separate you from the presence of your loved ones.
In deepest sympathy,
A Prayer of Submission
LORD God of the whole earth, all souls are Thine, and our souls and our lives are wholly in thy hands. We have neither the power to resist, nor the right to gainsay thy will, but the heart, darkened and torn with its grief and fears, flees as a bird to its mountain, to Thee. In Thee alone from whom all trial and all blessing alike cometh, is there refuge for the soul. Teach us this day to say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
O our Heavenly Father, we cannot bear alone this great burden of life, and all that life involves. Tremblingly do we say, "Thy will be done." O give us the power to accept thy will without fear. Thou O God, didst create the affections which life so often sorely wounds and bereaves; look, we pray Thee, pitifully upon the bleeding of these wounds. Be patient, we beseech Thee, with the weakness of a soul still ungrown and ignorant. Our hearts cling to the objects of their love. It is so hard to give them up and cling to Thee alone, nay rather to know that in Thee we have them still. They were so near, and Thou to our weak faith and imperfect vision, dost often seem so far. Thou hidest thyself, and thy greatness is so great above us, that we sometimes cannot feel thy sympathy as we should.
Heavenly Father, we are dumb before Thee. Be merciful we pray. Manifest the exceeding tenderness of thy compassion. Be pleased to remember how frail we are. And measure not, O God, we beseech Thee, thy goodness by our deserts. We are thy creatures. Thou has brought us into being. Spare, O Lord, the work of thy hand. Crush not utterly the souls that cry to Thee, out of their deep weakness and dependence.
In the course of that life which Thou alone dost order, whatever it shall please Thee to take from us, or seem to take away, may it please Thee to leave with us the comfort of thy peace. Suffer not our souls to be bewildered utterly in trials, and permit us not to fall into the outer darkness of despair.
Grant, O God, that ultimately the shadows of this troubled life may disappear through the rising of the sun of thy presence and thy love, and that with all those who have gone from our sight, we may meet in "that fair morn of morns" when the sorrows and tears and losses of this life shall be forgotten in the blessed companionships and compensations of the heavenly life.
May the Spirit of all grace and power, which in the Garden and on the Cross did sustain Jesus of Nazareth, graciously be with us in this hour of unutterable darkness and grief, and for his sake, give us the victory, here and hereafter.
Randolph & Co.
-Rev. Walter R. Brooks, D.D.
URING these lonely days of strain and suspense, I have wished so much that I could be a little help to you. I can tell you this at least, and pray that you may have from God and your friends and your own heart, strength enough to get through one day at a time. I do not see what else you can do but just live, now. You cannot understand or explain, but you know as well as I, that back of everything is God, and God is light-"we shall see;" and God is love-"we shall be satisfied." It may be a long while, but it will be worth waiting for. Trust Him—all you can-you will be glad you did.
Copyright 1901. by
Chas. Scribner's Sons