by Stephen Whitney

This content is part of a series.

Comfort Of God's Presence (1 of 5)
Series: Greatness of God
Stephen Whitney
Isaiah 40:1-5

London's Victoria and Albert Museum contains odds and ends collected by Queen Victoria and her husband when they ruled the English empire that circled the globe for 63 during the 1800's.
Massive hand-carved chairs sit next to delicate pieces of porcelain.

Wedged between the thousands of gifts is an unusual plaque that originally hung in a church in London. The plague, with its ornate carving, is displayed in the sculpture wing of the museum. Few people stop to look at the plaque. Even less take time to decipher its Old English script. But those who do take time to read it discover a poignant tale of sorrow and love.

The benefactor commissioned the plaque and had it placed in the chapel to memorialize her sister, Anna Cecilia Rhodes. Anna was born in 1764 and died in 1796 at the age of 32. A life cut short by death is indeed sad. But the last half of Anna's short life was marred by personal pain. When she was just 17, this beautiful
young woman contracted smallpox.

And quoting from the plaque, the disease "stripped off all the bloom of youthful beauty." Her loss of physical beauty was "followed by a dreadful nervous disorder" that "withered those
fair prospects of earthly happiness."

Physical deformity. Emotional heartache. A life cut short by death. One senses the suffering and sadness that seemed to squeeze this younth in its viselike grip. Where do you go for answers when life punches you in the gut and knocks you to your knees? From the ashes of personal tragedy, how can you discover meaning and purpose in life?

We have no direct answer from Anna, but her sister opened her heart in a closing poem to share her source of comfort and hope.
Anna's sister, in spite of her tears, found inner strength through her knowledge of the nature and character of God.

Here are the words she had carved into the bottom of the plaque:
Alas! H ...

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