(The following is a letter of John Newton to his young adopted daughter, who was away at school)
“The LORD does whatever pleases Him—in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!” Psalm 135:6
My dear Betsy,
How vain are all things here below! “Vanity of vanities!” says the preacher. And you, and I, and your mamma, may say so likewise; for we all counted upon seeing you last Sunday. We listened at the door—and peeped out of the window—but no Betsy came! Now we will venture to expect you next Sunday.
Indeed, it is not amiss that you should now and then meet with a hindrance—that you may learn, if possible—not to count too much on what tomorrow may do for you—and that you may begin to feel the impossibility of being happy, any further than your will is brought into submission to the will of God. In order to learn this—you must have your own will frequently crossed. And things do and will turn out, almost daily in one way or other—contrary to our wishes and expectations.
When such disappointments happen—most people fret and fume! They are angry and impatient! But others, who are in the Lord’s school, and desirous of being taught by Him—get benefit by these things, and sometimes find more pleasure in yielding to His appointments, though contrary to their own wills—than they would have done, if all had happened just as they had desired!
I wish for you my dear child, to think much of the Lord’s governing providence. It extends to the minutest concerns. He rules and manages all things; but in so secret a way, that most people think that He does nothing. When, in reality—He does ALL!
He appointed the time of your coming into the world. And the day and hour of your coming home from school to us—totally depends upon Him likewise! Nor can you safely travel one step of the road—without His protection and care over you!
It may now seem a small matter to you and I, whether you came home last Sunday—or are to come home next Sunday. But we know not what different consequences may depend upon the day—we know not what hidden danger you might have escaped by staying at school last Sunday. The Lord knows all things! He foresees every possible consequence! Often what we call disappointments,are really mercies from Him to save us from harm!
If I could teach you a lesson, which, as yet, I have but poorly learned myself—I would teach you a way to be never be disappointed. This would be the case—if you could always form a right judgment of this world, and all things in it.
If you go to a bramble-bush to look for grapes—you must be disappointed; but then you are old enough to know that grapes never grow upon brambles. So, if you expect much pleasure here in this world—you will not find it. But you ought not to say you are disappointed, because the Scripture plainly warned you beforehand, to look for crosses, trials and hindrances, every day. If you expect such things—you will not be disappointed when they happen!
“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb—and naked I will depart. The Lord gave—and the Lord has taken away! May the name of the Lord be praised!” Job 1:20-21