A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
“This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me” Psalm 119,50.
It was September 1962 in the merciful providence of God my wife and I were at Chelmondiston, Suffolk. The cause of our being there was that my wife had been called to enter the very deep waters of affliction, and loving friends had kindly invited her to spend some weeks with them.
During this period Mr. Delves preached for the Harvest Thanksgiving services. Owing to the very exceptional and trying nature of her affliction my wife was unable to attend the services. Even to enter any building overcame her with great fear and trembling.
In the afternoon Mr. Delves preached from Psalm 119.175, “Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.” He expounded the word ‘judgment’ as meaning the Lord’s dealings with His people.
Oh! how blessed this discourse was, to one who was doing business in deep waters. From the time I was favoured to hear this sermon I believe I can truthfully say, there has scarcely been one day when these words have not gone forth from my heart in prayer to the Lord. Often many times in a day:Â—’Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me’. Especially so when we have had to prove, ‘His ways are past finding out’.
During the interval of services, I spoke to my wife of Mr. Delves’ text and sermon, and returned for the evening service when he preached from Isaiah 40. 31.
After the service I returned immediately to where my wife was staying and she met me in the doorway of her room, and her face was all aglow and she saidÂ—’You do not know where I have been?’ Â— and then related the following:Â—
After we had left for the evening service, and she not being able to stay in the house for any length of time, also owing to her weakness, unable to walk any great distance, thought she would try and get as far as the chapel. This she was enabled to accomplish and arrived outside the building just as the hymn before the sermon commenced. It was a nine-verse hymn and she had to cling to the window-sill of the chapel as she felt her strength was ebbing fast. She begged of the Lord to give her strength to hold on until the hymn was finished. Also her desire had been, if it was the will of the Lord, Mr. Delves might be led to speak from a different scripture. The hymn being finished, and the building being large, she begged God that Mr. Delves might be constrained to announce his text loudly so she could hear it, and then try and get back to the farm, for by this time her strength was all but gone.
The Lord mercifully heard and answered all her petitions. Mr. Delves that evening gave out his text loudly and clearly ‘But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall
mount up with wings as eagles: they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint’. Truly it was the word of the Lord to her – she was enabled to get back to her room, and such was the overwhelming power that attended it, that she said she had to keep going to the word and read it and re-read it for the glory it contained was completely beyond her power to contain it.
To witness upon my return that evening the change in her countenance, was truly to behold the fulfilment of Psalm 104 verse 15 – “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart”.
Little was it realized what years of affliction were to follow, yet this ‘good word’ of the Lord has been as a sheet anchor to her heart. When through weary years of weakness, unable to concentrate, and even to read, how again and again, in the darkest hours, when all around has given way, the Lord has mercifully caused this word to be spoken to her, even at times by the most unusual of means. Thus proving “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” and hath servants everywhere. Should this be read by one in a like affliction, may it ever be remembered. He is still the same God who can use the jaw-bone of an ass, the carcase of a lion, and even birds of prey to yield the healing, strengthening power of His own word, to reach the desperate case of a needy soul. “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep”.
Of this never-to-be-forgotten occasion when the Lord used his dear servant Mr. Delves, we can but say, by the word of the Lord through him, he has been to us a nursing father through the afflicted years we have travelled together. Unto the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we ascribe all honour and glory. Even now, He being dead, yet speaketh, to us.
As we commenced with Psalm 119. 50, so we end with Acts 4. 20 ‘For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”