Joy and Satisfaction by Amy Carmichael
All the passages below are taken from the book, “Candle in the Dark” by Amy Carmichael, printed in 1981 with this edition printed in 2001.
Amy Carmichael was born in Northern Ireland and after a brief period in Japan arrived in India on 9 November 1895 as a Keswick missionary. She never left India till her death in Dohnavur on 18 January 1951. At first she worked in the villages of South India. Then in 1901 she began to make a home for children in need of protection and care. Others came to help her and the Dohnavur Fellowship was born—named after the village in which it is situated. For fifty years she was Mother (‘Amma’) to an ever-increasing family and saw many of her children grow up to serve the Lord by serving others.
In 1931 an accident led to illness and increasing physical limitations. For the last years of her life she was confined to bed, but her indomitable spirit never failed. She continued to counsel and encourage all who came to see her and wrote many books and innumerable letters.
The following letters, written with no thought of publication, have been selected from many hundreds treasured by members of the Dohnavur Fellowship, either her colleagues or her Indian children. Her power to help those in need came from her times of listening to her Lord. `Sometimes,’ she wrote, `it is as if another Hand were turning over the pages of my Bible and finding the places for me.’ Her language is steeped in the older versions of the Bible (she died before many of the modern translations appeared), and a lifetime spent in India gave her an Indian mode of thought.
`Pray for me, that the Lord would give me house room again to hold a candle to this dark world’, wrote SamuelRutherford, and this was Amy’s prayer. It is our prayer too, as we share the riches she passed on to us through her close personal walk with the Lord and utter devotion to Him.
B. M. G. TREHANE
Dohnavur Fellowship [ix-x]
Joy and Satisfaction
There is joy, joy found nowhere else,
when we can look up into Christ’s face
when He says to us,
`Am I not enough for thee, Mine own?’
with a true, `Yes, Lord, Thou art enough’.
May this year be one of unshadowed joy. There need never be a shadow. All shadows are from beneath, from self, from the I in us which so often wants us to listen to what it says, instead of to the voice of our Lord. Let us refuse this self voice, always, and live in the unclouded light of selfless joy and love. This is what I want to do ever more and more.
I have a lovely word for you: Luke 4:30, `Jesus passing through the midst of them went His way.’ We are meant to pass through the midst of whatever comes and not get upset or even inwardly ruffled.
A day or two ago I was thinking rather sadly of the past—so many sins and failures and lapses of every kind. I was reading Isaiah 43, and in verse 24 I saw myself: ‘Thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities.’ And then for the first time I noticed that there is no space between v.24 and v.25, `I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake; and I will not remember thy sins.’ Who but our Father would forgive like that?
Joy is eternal
I was thinking partly of my own need and partly of you when I opened my Bible at Luke 24:26. `Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?’ It was the `ought not’ that laid hold on me. I must not wish less than He accepted as something that `ought’ to be, for any of you. It is easier far to accept for oneself than for another. And yet the Father and the Blessed Spirit, and the loving angels too, accepted it for the holy Son of God.
I am glad that the `Enter into the joy of thy Lord’ is the certain ending of everything that is so painful today for you who travail to save the souls for whom Christ died. And all that travail means is only for a moment. `If for a season . . .’ `After that ye have suffered awhile …’ Joy, not suffering, is eternal.
And there are many joys now. May your day be full of joy, the kind that is strength.
The jewel of His joy
As I think of you I can only commit you to the One who loves you best. You know perhaps, Lilias Trotter’s painting of a whin blossom (gorse, you call it); beside it she wrote, ‘Setteth in pain the jewel of His joy’. I think of you like that.
I am very sure that the jewel of His joy is for you, prepared, held safe for you. But I see it `set’ in pain, and I could not bear it for you if it were not for another word—the word `choose’ in Psalm 47:4. `Choose after testing’, as David chose the best five pebbles for his purpose in the brook; choose after testing all other choices. And He who chooses is above all circumstances, has the choice of all. So when He chooses the inheritance of a beloved one, it must be `the excellency of Jacob’, the best He could possibly choose, the excellency of Jacob whom He loved.
I cannot forget the flints on my own path and the thorns. But, looking back, I know I would not have chosen any other if I could have known when first I began to walk in it what it would mean of His companionship, and also of the power to enter into the griefs of others. It was all worth while, ten thousand times worth while.
Don’t let anything discourage you. Some may disappoint you—He was disappointed. You will find that nothing is too small for His regard. He will say things to you that you could not repeat—they would sound too small, too intimate—but they will be the joy and rejoicing of your heart.
Receiving and reflecting
It has been a wonderful year and the next will be more wonderful, for the path does not grow duller as we go on but brighter—it shineth more and more unto the perfect day. And light is sown on that path, and gladness.
I think of you as continually `receiving and reflecting’, as Rotherham translates 2 Corinthians 3:18. `And we all with unveiled face receiving and reflecting the glory of the Lord into the same image are being transformed, from glory into glory.’
The Lord Jesus keeps you so and increases your clearness of vision that the reflection may be the more perfect. And pray this prayer for me. I do feel such a dull mirror, and I need your prayers.
The joy of the Holy Spirit
Yes, peace is the gift of gifts. This morning I read the two letters to the Thessalonians. Don’t you think it is lovely that `the joy of the Holy Spirit’ should be mentioned in connection with suffering? I think it is the only place where the Spirit’s joy is mentioned; you might check this, but I think it is true. You are now in a very good position to prove that gift of joy. It is easy to rejoice when everything is as one wishes it were. But when things are exactly as one wishes they were not, it is not so easy. Then is the time to prove the things we believe.
Your whole life now is a proving of His power to enable you to do anything. You will never be able to fear again, I think, after all this.
He will satisfy
He will be enough for you. `Shall never thirst’ is a true word, and whatever His thoughts may be for your life, He will satisfy you. ‘Thou, 0 Lord, art the thing that I long for.’ And to you He says, `I have longed for thee.’ That deep wonderful word amazes me again and again. Psalm 132:14 Prayer Book Version: `For the Lord hath chosen Zion to be a habitation for Himself: He hath longed for her.’
And now to Him who heard `what time the storm fell upon thee’, to the tenderest of tender ones who can quiet our restless longings and teach us to do without, till our soul is even as a weaned child—to Him whose you are I commit you.
Count them happy
Yesterday the two blue love-birds were in my room. They were flying about happily when Marahatha the barbet, whose tail is very short, evidently thinking their tails much too long, with one tweak tweaked out the long blue feathers. That love-bird looked very sorry for himself, and I was very sorry for him. So was everybody. I think we often think of those whose hopes are suddenly ended much as we all looked at the poor love-bird as he hopped about (you know the funny strut of a love-bird) inviting sympathy. We say, ‘poor thing’. What low levels content us. God forgive us for our grovelling. They are happy—we must count them happy—that endure. James was right (James 5:11).
This morning Psalm 70:4 spoke to me. `Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee.’ That’s not just a holy aspiration, it’s a command. And He who commands enables. Let all those who seek the Lord rejoice, today, every day. Joy is to be the keynote of our lives. He calls us then to make an act of faith every time we would naturally be pulled down into the pit of joylessness, for there is an end set to the sin and sorrow and confusion of the world as well as to our own private trials. We only see today. He whom we worship sees tomorrow.
You will find the truest joy comes in utter self-forgetfulness—-what our Lord called the denial of self. This is what He is working in you to create and maintain. But He never forgets the cost.
Now may God give you the joy of Psalm 4:7, ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than they have when their corn and their wine are increased.’ May that joy flow over and wash away self in all its subtle forms and give you that dearest of all graces, selflessness.
Don’t let your mind dwell on sadness as it saps the soul of strength. There is more blue sky overhead than clouds. The clouds will pass. I often think how sad we shall be at the end, if we have failed in joy. I don’t want to fail.
He has brought you into the company of the happy-hearted, and you will carry His happiness wherever you go. How we dishonour our good Master when we carry fogs and mists and a general sense of dreariness. The Lord of joy keeps us in the glorious way of joy.
Joys are on their way
Joys are always on their way to us. They are always travelling to us through the darkness of the night. There is never a night when they are not coming (Psalm 30:5).
Fullness of joy
Truly He does give happiness. I’m never unhappy except when I hear of wrongdoing or think of the grief of the world. It’s strange how one can be happy when underneath all the time there is the thought of His grief. And yet it is true that there is happiness, for continually He is doing such loving things that it would be quite impossible not to know that He is here. And if He is here, `about my bed’ as Psalm 139:2 says, how could there be anything but fullness of joy? `In Thy Presence is fullness of joy’, not only hereafter but now.
I think of you going to school now in fullness of joy, teaching, influencing, loving in fullness of joy, for you are in His presence, never out of that blessedness for one minute. We should be the most radiant of people with such a Lord.
In His footsteps
Just now I am reading through the Gospels and marking in the margin every place where suffering is mentioned. It is mentioned very often. The Lord Jesus made it plain from the beginning that there would be trial of many kinds for all who would follow Him, and He Himself led the way in that path. Should we be surprised when we find ourselves following in His footsteps?
There is joy too. He said clearly that sorrow would be turned into joy, joy that would never end. But I think that He wants us all to understand quite definitely that if we follow in the way of the cross we must be prepared to take up the cross. We must not think of life as a joy-ride. But there is nothing whatever to be afraid of. `Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be always praising Thee’ is a shining word for us all.
No one knows what this next year will bring, but one thing is sure. He will be with us, and He is enough for every difficulty that may arise. He is enough for today’s difficulty. Do you sometimes feel like the disciples when they were in the midst of the sea toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them? Then take the lovely words for your comfort: `He cometh unto them and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.’
No matter how much the wind blows, it will be true for us as it was for them, `The wind ceased’. So let us be of good cheer and go on our way rejoicing.
Letters to her children
You have given me a starry joy. When I gave you your name (Star) I prayed that you might grow up to be a star in this dark world, and now you are learning some of the wonder of the stars. Do you know that Venus is always covered with cloud and mist, and that it is the light shining on the mist which makes it look so beautiful? Isn’t this a figure of the true?
Sometimes what feels like a cloud and mist is allowed to come and seems to cover us. But it doesn’t matter. If only the sun of the love of the Lord shines upon us, the very mist and cloud will be turned to beauty.
Isn’t it wonderful to think that all the Bible people and our Lord Himself looked at those very same stars and constellations? The first time I realized that, I gazed and gazed at the shining worlds.
And another wonderful thing is that the stars are shining all day long, passing over our heads by day as by night only we can’t see them till it is dark. There is a lovely meaning in that, but I leave you to find it out for yourself.
I am very glad you shared the joy of stars with me. Now I share it with you.
(2) All that I have is thine
I am very, very glad when I think of you, because your whole life is given to your Saviour and I know that one day He will say to you, `Enter into the joy of thy Lord’.
He does satisfy the heart of His loving, trusting child. You have found Him true, I know, just as I have, and tens of thousands have. No one who gave herself wholly to Him was ever disappointed at the end. No, not one.
And all the time He is with you, my child. He says to you, `Daughter, thou art ever with Me and all that I have is thine.’ He notices everything, remembers everything, gives everything His dear child needs for life and service. She is ever with Him, never, never far away from His loving heart.
If this note is ever in your hands it will be because I am out of sight, with the Lord. But I shall not be forgetting you. I do not forget you now although I see you so seldom. I shall be thinking of you, loving you, praying for you, rejoicing as I see you run your race.*
God bless you and make you a blessing. [85-98]
* On another occasion, Amy wrote: `Surely being with Him will mean a new power to pray? It must, I think, for to be present with the Lord must mean access in a far more vital sense than is possible now, and surely that will mean a new power to speak to Him about our beloved?