The Old Doctor's Story

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 6
“Thy will be done!”
My God, my Father, while I stray
Far from my home, in life's rough way,
O teach me from my heart to say"—
Thy will be done!
If Thou should'st call me to resign
What most I prize, it ne'er was mine;
I only yield Thee what was Thine—
"Thy will be done!”
If but my fainting heart be bless'd
With Thy sweet Spirit for its Guest,
My God, to Thee I leave the rest—
"Thy will be done!”
Renew my will from day to day;
Blend it with Thine, and take away
All that now makes it hard to say—
"Thy will be done”
Then, when on earth I breathe no more
The prayer, oft mix'd with tears before,
I'll sing, upon a happier shore,
“Thy will be done!”
IT was a lovely Lord's Day evening in balmy August. We had just concluded family worship, and one of our number had asked that we might sing together the above solemn, beautiful hymn. Scarcely had we finished the fast verse when the door quietly opened, and a well known figure stood before us. It was our family doctor, now an aged man, with snow white locks, and long flowing beard.
Such a visit was no uncommon occurrence. He loved, as evening shades drew on, to drop into our quiet little cottage and spend an hour, hearing and telling of God's wondrous purposes of grace, and of the final consummation of all, in that glory to which he felt himself fast hastening. Quietly he took his seat by my side, but as we sung with plaintive voice that searching second verse:—
If Thou shoulds't call me to resign
What most I prize, it ne'or was mine
I only yield Thee what was Thine
"Thy will be done!”
a strange pallor overspread his face, and. before we had finished the third verse, covering his face with his hands, he bowed his manly aged head on the table, the very picture of sorrow and sadness. Before the hymn was ended, had fairly broken down, and sobbed aloud.
Such grief is a sacred thing, and we all sat in silence till the dear old man's sorrow subsided, and he became himself again.
“Thank you, thank you," said he, wiping the tears from his eyes; “I know you will forgive me, but that hymn has become almost sacred to me, and is connected with one of the saddest stories I have known in this poor world of sorrow. A strange similarity of circumstances to those under which I first heard it sung has brought the sad story so forcibly before me, that it has quite unmanned me.”
Being pressed, if it were not of a private or too painful a character, to tell us this sad story, he at once replied, " Oh, yes, I will readily tell you all about it, for though the story brings back the remembrance of dark, deep sorrow, it carries with it its own antidote, and leaves only joy and gladness behind.”
Then bracing himself up for the effort, he said, “It is now many years since the sad incidents of my sorrowful story took place, according to the measurement of time, but to me it seems but as so many days, or weeks at most.
“At that time I had a practice in two or three villages in the Midland counties. The people were mostly poor, but here and there was a stately mansion, with many a snug little villa residence. In one of them, surrounded by its well-kept garden, lawn and orchard, resided one of my patients, an aced well-to-do retired gentleman, with his wife and three grown up daughters. It was indeed well with them, not only for this world, but it was well for eternity. Many a pleasant hour in sweet Christian fellowship had I spent in that happy little circle.
“As now, it was a Sunday night in bright sunny August. As now, I stepped into their house to spend a quiet hour. As with you, there were five present. They were singing the same hymn to the same tune. That same grand old sun, as now, was sinking behind the distant hills. They sung that hymn, oh, so sweetly it seemed such a reality with every one that I could not but ask them to sing it again. It made a deep impression, and scarce could I keep back the hot gushing tears.
“We together knelt and worshipped as the old man poured out thanksgivings for all the mercies so richly given. After supper we sat in that quiet room gazing over the distant hills till daylight passed away. It was a lovely sight—that aged godly father and mother, and those three gentle, loving, happy Christian girls. There was peace and plenty, and contented hearts. As I retired to my home and to my bed, I thought much of this rare scene, for it was indeed as a fair garden where all is calm and lovely.
“How little did I think what a desolating storm was about to burst over that fair scene and sweep down every beautiful flower!
It was not more than two o'clock the following ramming, when I was aroused by a violent ringing of the night bell. I was requested to hasten back to my old friend's house, as the youngest daughter had been taken suddenly A few minutes brought me to the bed side. What a change! Dire fever had stricken her down, and was already making rapid and. dangerous progress. In three days, spite of all efforts, she was gone! But before the last painful struggle the eldest child was also laid prostrate, then the third, and last of all, and almost immediately, the mother, too, fell a prey to the same fatal fever!
“It would be vain to attempt a description of those days and nights of agony and toil. All that wealth could command, and skill could accomplish was secured, but in twelve short days the sacred dust of all four was laid beneath the sward of the village churchyard. What a dark cloud hung over that quiet village! My own soul had been moved to its lowest depths.
“Just fourteen days after that fair Sunday night scene, again I stepped into that room. The dear old man was in the same chair, gazing upon the same setting sun. Unobserved I sat by his side. The last rays of light lit up his sorrowful face. Alas! how changed. The tears trickled down those careworn cheeks. I wondered now if he thought of that solemn hymn,
"Thy will be done!”
which a fortnight before we had sung under circumstances so altered. Becoming conscious of my presence, he turned full towards me, clasped his hands, and with the tears streaming down his cheeks, exclaimed but with a voice oh! so tremulous: —
"If Thou should'st call me to resign
What most I prize, it ne'er was mine;
I only yield Thee what was Thine—
Thy will be done!”
“Together we wept as only those who know such deep sorrow could weep. Stricken down, and alone in his grief—all that was dear on earth torn away with apparently ruthless hand, still could the dear old saint exclaim—
Thy will be done!’
On finishing this touching story, “You will not wonder," said the aged doctor," that your hymn sung to-night under such peculiar circumstances should have carried me back to such a scene of sorrow. During the sharp short illness of all four there was little opportunity for prayer or worship. Speedily was delirium followed by unconsciousness, and that by death; but they knew in whom they believed. They knew the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the blood of His Son had cleansed them from all sin; and their end was peace.”
Reader, will yours be the same?
T. R.