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  • Writer's pictureJay Lowder

Hanging on the Promises of God!

Susannah Spurgeon’s Creative Encouragement

Susannah Spurgeon died in 1903, faithful to Christ until the end, just as she had been faithful to her famous husband, Charles, until his death. Charles Spurgeon, “The Prince of Preachers," is well known for his preaching and writing but is lesser known for his battles with depression. It is not surprising that he experienced deep emotional pain as he carried an extraordinary number of responsibilities on his shoulders.

He was always in the spotlight, both loved and hated by his contemporaries. For example, because of his courageous opposition to slavery, one American newspaper in the South anticipated that if he visited the United States, he might receive a beating “so bad as to make him ashamed.”1 He also experienced many physical ailments. 

Not only did he face spiritual opposition and physical ailments, but he also lived under the emotional strain of caring for his people. He described the pain of pastors regarding the congregation: "Their needs will be the reason for his griefs."2 However, God never planned for any Christian to walk alone, and Charles had his gracious and supportive wife, Susannah, to encourage him.

Fetching the Medicine!

Charles often preached that comfort and growth in faith come from frequent biblical meditation: "Get a promise, beloved, every day, and take it with you wherever you go; mark it, learn it, and inwardly digest it."3 Because she had heard him preach and was herself devoted to God’s word when Charles despaired, Susannah knew exactly what the Great Physician had prescribed for her suffering husband. She knew the Word of God would heal the wounds of her beloved.

Susannah modeled how we should encourage others. First, she sympathetically supported him with comforting words. But second and most importantly, she pointed him to Scripture, the truest source of counsel. By pointing him to the Bible, she reminded him to hope in the truths he had publicly proclaimed. She gave Charles his own medicine. She did this in a creative way!

Hanging Promises of Hope!

After a particularly hard time in which he was unfairly criticized, she hung Scripture up on the wall for him to read.  Recollecting this method of inspiration, she wrote that she printed Matthew 5:11–12 in “large old English type and enclosed it in a pretty Oxford frame…The text was hung up in our own room and was read over by the dear preacher every morning. Fulfilling its purpose—most blessedly, for it strengthened his heart.”4

She assisted Charles by making the Scriptures he loved accessible (actually unavoidable) for him. Every day, he read those precious promises: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (ESV).

He pondered the blessedness of persecution for his beloved Jesus. The result was that these words of Jesus "strengthened his heart and enabled him to buckle on the invisible armour, whereby he could calmly walk among men, unruffled by their calumnites."5 What about you? Since a major role of Christians in community is to "encourage one another" (Hebrews 3:13), what can you learn from Susannah’s inspiring example? We need to apply her example by asking ourselves three questions:

by Unknown photographer albumen carte-de-visite early 1860s © National Portrait Gallery, London - NPG x46627

Hanging on the Promises for Ourselves and Others!

First, what scripture do you need to make accessible for meditation "day and night" (Psalm 1:2)? You should pick a passage related to a current struggle, whether that is opposition like Charles faced or anxiety, temptation, or grief. Then, you should write it down to make it "portable.” Or hang it up to make your encounter with it unavoidable during your daily routine. Perhaps your phone is always with you, so store that verse on it and keep it ready for reading in your spare moments. Many Christians have testified to the power of reading a verse or passage on an index card on their bathroom mirror! You can even strategically use “shower” Scriptures to memorize entire books of the Bible.6

We can get really low at different times. In those moments, we are not really living the triumphant hymn “Standing on the Promises of God.” It’s more like we are hanging on the promises for dear life. But God can heal our hearts with this Word as we cling to its promises day and night!

Second, what verses are needed by those around you? Who needs to hear a verse of Scripture from you again? While you can give them practical advice from your experiences, it is more powerful to point them upward to God's truths in Scripture. Pray a verse for them, tell them about it, write it out for them, or text it to them! Do whatever you can to bring that verse to their minds, encouraging them to apply its healing power to their problems. It can be quite exciting to find creative ways to encourage others with Scripture. It is, after all, for all of us, “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” and “every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Third, who is your "Susannah" who relentlessly encourages you? Is it your spouse, your adult child, your parent, your pastor, a teacher, or a church member? Whoever they are, thank them this week in a specifically biblical way! Tell them that you thank God for them (Philippians 1:3), and thereby return the best biblical encouragement to them.

Here is a helpful, related article cited in the article. Read all of it!

1“They Want Spurgeon,” Daily Confederation (October 30, 1858), quoted in George, T. Christian, “Editor’s Preface,” The Lost Sermons of C. H. Spurgeon Volume I: His Earliest Outlines and Sermons between 1851 and 1854 (Nashville: B&H: 20170, xvii.

2C. H. Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel: 1876 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 399.       

3C. H. Spurgeon, “A Lecture for Little-Faith,” in The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 4 (London; Glasgow: Passmore & Alabaster; James Paul; George John Stevenson; George Gallie, 1858), 324–5.

4Ray Rhodes Jr. Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon, in Free Grace and Dying Grace: Morning Devotions by Susannah Spurgeon. (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2006), 168-69.


6Glenna Marshall, Memorizing Scripture (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2023), 37.

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