But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Job 23:10
"Happiness is a state of mind" believed Beatrice Eckelberry, who learned first-hand what sorrow and loss are all about. The following is the advice she gave to a friend following the death of her four-year-old, written in the year 1933:
"Tonight is the anniversary of the birth of my first-born. I've been lonely for a few days and thinking a great deal. Memory takes me back to January, 1928, before the beginning of this world-wide thing called Depression.
"Nineteen-twenty-seven had been a bad year for us, or at least we thought so then. We had invested money into a business which was not paying, and borrowed money after that.... On New Year's eve we celebrated at a well-known and aristocratic hotel. We attended a dinner dance. On the way to the big celebration I remarked that I was glad to see the old year go.... Fate hadn't shone so brightly upon us that year; we were down and worried and uncertain, but I well remember that I added: 'But we have much for which to be grateful; we have each other.' Each other at that time meant a son nearly four, a petite baby girl sixteen months, our Daddy and myself. We were in love; our family was ideal; we thought in a sense, we were sitting on top of the world--except financially.
"On New Year's Day in the evening our little boy grew desperately ill. Doctors and nurses came, worked, and advised, but on January third he died, and the bottom dropped out of our world. It was so sudden, so unexpected, so tragic we had so little time to prepare ourselves for such a shock. We were thrown up against God; there was no one else to whom we could turn.
"As the weeks went by, many times with tears streaming down my face, I told our Lord that, though I was desperately lonely, I was happy to have our boy with Him. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn't lying to Him, but after a year or more my prayer of resignation to the Divine Will became a real truth.
"Since our boy went away, money has never held so high a place in our regard. True, we have been most fortunate during the present condition, but this much we know: that on those days five years ago when our son lay at Death's door, if an angel of God could have appeared and given us our choice between that which we were scheduled to experience or dire poverty for a lifetime--well, you know the answer.
"We are facing uncertainty, as is everyone who hasn't already gone down. But we love each other more now, much more than we ever did, and kisses are free. We still have our daughter and another son and a death to remember, but we've learned the real values of life and we're happy. We have no money in the bank; we're still paying debts, and our Daddy still works hours and hours weekly (much too many) just to get by.
"Depressions are like measles, I believe. You may have the rash more than once, but you will never be sick with it but once--if it gets you bad that time.... I am not sorry for myself, and I thank God from the bottom of my heart for all the good things He has given us."
What an attitude! When you face the fires of testing, be encouraged. God will bring you through just as he did Beatrice Eckelberry during the Great Depression. As Job put it long ago: "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).
Resource reading: Job 1.
Sermon Topics: Happiness