When One Service is Interrupted by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
I am sorry to learn that you have been so ill — but I am glad to know that you are better again. I think you have been quite right in laying aside part of your work, for God’s service is never meant to be unreasonable or exacting. Of course, there are times when we have to make very serious self-sacrifices in doing the work of the Master — but, ordinarily, we are not required to injure health or shorten life, even in the doing of the things which our heart prompts us to do. I am sure that other people will be led to take up the burden in Sunday-school work, which you have laid down. Meanwhile you need to rest.
I believe that the true idea of Sabbath-keeping is that the day shall be a restful one in every way, leaving us in renewed strength and freshened in mind and invigorated in body for the work of the week which is to begin again Monday morning. A Sunday which does not leave us in this condition, has ordinarily not been a well-kept Sunday. I hope that you will find your rest from your class-work conducive to your best health in every way, and that the work itself will not suffer through your laying it down for the present.
I am very glad, indeed, to have given the least cheer and comfort to your friend. I am deeply interested in all people who, like her, are bearing burdens and for whom others are not likely to care. Long since I chose as one of the aims of my life — to help those whom nobody else is likely to help, to do the things nobody else would be likely to do, to turn my efforts toward the services which no other one would incline to take up. It has led me into many experiences of great gladness. Very many of my happiest experiences have been with those who seem to have been set aside by the world. If we are God’s children, we need to be very careful lest we assume to be superior to some other one of our human family who stands right beside us. God, too, shows the deepest sympathy and the largest helpfulness — to those who need the most. I am sure that the unappreciated people of this world, are often the ones whom Christ appreciates the most. I am very glad to assure your friend, therefore, of my sincere personal friendship and my desire to help her in her life. Tell her to keep near to Christ — for in him she will always find sweetest sympathy and the strongest helpfulness.
For yourself, in your condition of somewhat enfeebled health, let me speak also a word of cheer and encouragement. I am sure that you want to live a victorious life, not simply in the meeting of temptation — but also in the bearing of life’s ills or infirmities. Long since I adopted two little rules which I have tried to carry out in my own life. One is, never to be discouraged. The other is, never to be a discourager. The first, some people say, is impossible — but I have not found it so. Of course, there are countless things in everyone’s life which come as heavy burdens, as sorrows, as keen disappointments. Nothing would be easier than to yield to these disheartening things. Very much depends upon habit. If one begins to yield to them, one will keep on in the yielding and, by and by, life will be simply a continuous series of defeats. But far better is it to form the habit of never yielding to discouragement.
I think we should treat discouragement as a temptation. It is the Devil trying to get us to confess ourselves beaten and thus to give up in the battle for strength and nobleness, or in the doing of our duty. It ought not to be impossible for a Christian, therefore, to learn never to be discouraged. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “In the world you shall have tribulations: but take courage, I have overcome the world,” and “in me you might have peace.” In Christ, we may always be overcomers — “more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
As I have intimated before this, victory must come through a habit of mind. We must begin to stand against the encroachments of discouragement. The first and second and third times, the battle may be hard — but the fourth time it will be a little easier. Then the hundredth time it will be quite easy. By and by, one gets the habit so thoroughly ingrained into one’s nature, that nothing can break it or lead one to yield to depression. It gives wonderful power to life — to have won this victory over self.
Then the other rule — never to be a discourager — is also important. Some people are always discouragers. Wherever they go, they make life harder for other people. They are always saying dispiriting things, things which terrify or alarm those to whom they speak, things, at least, which make life harder for them. We have no right ever to say to anyone anything which will make another less strong for his battle.
I am very glad to be your friend. I appreciate all that you say about helpfulness which may come to us through friends we have not seen. I believe that friendships formed through one’s written words, may be quite as strong and as real, in a certain sense, at least, as those which are formed by personal fellowship. I assure you therefore of most kindly interest and of my earnest desire to help you in all your life. May God’s best blessing be upon you.