Twenty years ago I was handed this story on a piece of paper, and since then, have kept it in my Bible. This story by Elder Frank Philips had a profound impact on my Christian experience when I first came back to the church. The author has since passed, but his story is published here with permission.
For many years I served in the Prayer and Counseling Department at our Camp meeting. During that time many people sought counsel and advice; but one young lady stands out vividly in my memory.
She was a young mother of two, about 26 years old, and her family was falling apart. As we began to talk in the counseling room, she told me that her marriage was breaking up and that there was no way it could be saved.
Snuggled on her lap was a beautiful three-month-old baby, and standing close beside her was a lovely three-year-old girl.
"We've sought marriage counselors; we've been everywhere and done everything we can think of to save our marriage. This little baby," motioning to the sleeping child on her lap, "was our last effort to weld our family together; but it hasn't worked. There's nothing to do but to break up our home."
I prayed with her and she returned to her tent. During the next three days she continued to come for counseling, and each time she revealed more details of the family's problem. Finally, on Thursday, she said "I wish there was something that could be done."
"Are you ready to break your home up?" I asked.
"No," she said. "I'm really not."
"Are you willing to pay any price to hold it together?" I questioned.
"I think so." She hesitated to answer.
"I want to give you something," I said as I handed her a card on which I had printed a helpful quotation. "I believe what is written on this card is the most potent paragraph in the entire writings of Ellen G. White. I've seen it work miracles in homes; I've seen it save lives; I've even seen it weld families back together even after there's been a divorce. It reads this way. . . "
The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ, abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Savior who surrounds him with his presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and `all things' that are permitted `work together for good to them that love God.' Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 71 (Romans 8:28)
"I'm sure you didn't get everything from this paragraph in the first reading, so I'd like to emphasize two very important points—And remember also that all the problems for Job were only what God allowed.
“So first, we're told here that Christ accepted everything as coming from whose hand? The Father's.
“You mean when they spat in His face He accepted that as coming from His Father? Are you ready to go that far?
"You mean when they platted a crown of thorns and put it upon His brow and crushed it down and the blood coursed down His face, He accepted that as coming from His Father?
"You mean when they took Him to the hill in Nazareth and tried to push Him off He accepted this as coming from His Father?
"Yes. Every solitary experience that touched His life He accepted as coming directly from His Father. Here was His source of comfort, and it is the same for us today!”
"When the robe of Christ's righteousness surrounds us, He only parts it to allow through that which is for our best good." I said to this young woman, "I want you to take this. Take it to your tent. Read it. Study it and come back tomorrow."
When she came back the next day, I asked if she had done what I had requested of her, and she said, "Yes."
"Are you willing to follow the principles in that single paragraph?"
Slowly and thoughtfully she answered, "I don't know. I'm not sure.... I wish you could talk to my husband. He's coming tomorrow to pick us up. He isn't an Adventist."
I told her that if she could get him to stay until after the Sabbath services I would be glad to talk with him.
The young husband did stay and she brought him to see me. I talked with them both, handed him a copy of the same card, and watched while he read it.
"If either one of you will follow this instruction and simply accept it as the principle that guides your life, your marriage can be saved. If both of you will follow it, the most joyous experience you can possibly imagine will be yours."
I prayed with them before they left—not knowing what the outcome would be.
The next year at Camp meeting as I was walking down one of the trails, I ran right into this lady.
"I've been looking all over for you!" she said. "Do you remember the counsel you gave me last year along with that card?"
"Now that you've jogged my memory, I do remember. What can I do for you?"
Excitedly she said, "I want to tell you what happened!"
"Wonderful! Tell me. Did you actually apply the principle?"
"I left this campground with a determination that I was going to accept everything that touched my life, everything, as coming directly from the hand of Jesus."
"Wonderful!" I said. "How did it go?"
"For the first three months it was hell." (And those were the exact words she used.) "I thought I was living with the devil. I've never seen my husband act so mean and ornery and devilish in his whole life!
“But then, after about three months something began to change." She paused, smiling wryly at the reflection, then continued, "I'm not sure yet whether it was in me or in him. But something began to change.
"After another three months had passed, we were enjoying the sweetest relationship we'd ever had in our married life.
“We had never experienced anything like this. Why, everything was just as though heaven had opened up. But I knew the devil wasn't going to let this last very long."
"But," she continued, "it lasted for quite awhile. Then our baby died. I just wasn't ready for that. I had accepted everything as coming from Jesus, but wasn't ready for this. You see, it wasn't just that our baby had died—it was the way it happened that really made it so hard."
I could see tears coming to her eyes. Gently I encouraged her to tell me about it.
"Well," she said, "my husband and I decided one day to take a drive up into the hills. We had done this many times before, and had always left the baby with my husband's mother. Even though she is getting quite old, she loved to care for our little one, and felt she was quite capable of handling our eleven months old bundle of energy.
"Grandma's medicine was on the end of the davenport. When she laid the sleeping baby down there, she forgot about the pills. She crossed the room and began to read.
"When the baby woke up, Grandma didn't notice. Our baby crawled over to where the pills were, grabbed a handful of them and was swallowing them when Grandma looked up.
“As Grandma watched our baby swallow those pills, she panicked. She froze in her seat! She couldn't move, couldn't speak, couldn't do anything!
"When my husband and I came back we found the baby on the davenport in a coma. We grabbed the baby, saw the pills and grabbed them too. Grandma was still sitting in the chair—in shock! We rushed to the hospital as fast as we could, but within an hour our precious baby was dead.
"You see," she continued, "it was difficult because it was so unexpected, but that was not all. It was also difficult because within just a few hours the members of my church began to come and sympathize with me. This went on for days, and I accepted their sympathy.
"After a few days I began to feel the same old resentments, the same old feelings that I had when I came to visit you at Camp meeting.
"And," she said, "I began to realize that I had failed the Lord. I had pledged to Him that I would accept everything that touched my life as coming from Jesus, but I had not accepted the death of my child as coming from His hand.
"I rushed into the bedroom. Falling on my knees, I prayed, ‘Lord, I have failed You. I have disappointed You. Please, please forgive me. I will accept even the death of my baby as coming from Your hands. You know what You `re doing, I don't. I don't enjoy it; I don't like it, but I know that You know what You're doing and that in good time You'll let me know.'
"I got up from my knees and walked back into the front room. Within a few minutes the doorbell rang. Another lady had come to sympathize with me over my loss. I looked at this nice lady, put my hand up and said kindly as I could, 'I don't want to appear rude or ungrateful for your kindness, but please don't sympathize with me. You see, I gave my life to Jesus a year ago, and I gave my baby's life to Him at the same time. We are in the hands of Jesus. He knows what He is doing, I don't; but I don't have to know because I trust Him. So, please, instead of sympathizing, would you kneel with me, and we can thank Jesus for actually working in our lives?'
"We knelt together and prayed. The lady left immediately after prayer. A few more people came to offer their sympathy and I shared the same thoughts with them. As soon as people realized that I did not want sympathy, they stopped coming."
"About three weeks after the death of our baby, the doorbell rang. I went to the door and there stood my husband's mother and father."
"May we come in and talk with you?" they asked.
"Yes. Of course," I told them.
"Dear, we've been watching you, watching you for a whole year. Something has happened. You're not the same girl you were a year ago. And we've watched you even closer since the little baby died. We've seen no resentment in you. We don't understand it at all, but we want to tell you something...."
"You see, when we were teenagers, we were members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but since our marriage neither one of us has been inside of a Seventh-day Adventist church—never. Our son was reared out of the church entirely, but if God can do in you what He's done in you in one year's time, then He can do it in us, too. We're going to come back to church."
"Two months ago my husband's parents were baptized. Born again. They have a new life. But, that's not all! After they were baptized, my husband came home one day and said, ‘Honey, you're not the girl I married. If God can do in you what He has done in this past year, if he can do in my parents what He has in such a short time, then He can do it in me, also!'"
Glowing with happiness, she continued. "One week ago my husband was baptized a born-again Christian! Now, I understand! In the earth made new I'm going to have my baby, my little girl, my husband, and his parents!"
“I understand now that God works in marvelous ways His wonders to perform. I just want you to pray with me that I will never forget this lesson—to accept absolutely everything as coming from Jesus and to give God thanks for it."
You see, that's what Paul says, "In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." "Rejoice, and again I say unto you, rejoice." Not for just the things that please me, but rejoice in whatever happens—knowing that God is at the helm of my life. When troubles and trials come, recognize one thing—that upon no worthless material will God waste any effort. So you can always rejoice and say, "Lord, thank you for thinking that I am worth working on."
You don't even have to enjoy the way He's working. I'm sure that Jesus didn't enjoy when the crown was put upon his head. I'm sure He didn't enjoy when the nails were driven through His hands, but He still said, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing."
Can you see what this did in the life of Christ? As our example, Jesus totally trusted His Father. He knew that nothing could touch Him but that which His Father permitted—no matter what it looked like or felt like. He trusted His Father's love, and He rested in the assurance that whatever was allowed was for His ultimate good.
Does this help you? Can you begin to see that no matter how terrible something might look or feel in your life—no matter how awful someone may be treating you—if you can accept these things as coming directly from the hand of Jesus, they can be used by God to bless you.
This dear lady said to me, "I shudder every time I think of it. If I had gone on with resentment in my heart, my husband and his parents would never have seen Jesus in me."
Will you let Jesus be seen in you?