The first book on my reading list for 2021 was a biography written by Ray Rhodes Jr. called Susie. It it a beautiful story of Susannah Spurgeon’s life and the legacy she left behind. Susie was the wife of the famous pastor, Charles Spurgeon. She was a woman of godly character, a wife, mother, and after learning more about her, a woman I deeply admire.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM SUSIE ON MARRIAGE
Charles and Susie had a beautiful marriage, but not necessarily an easy one. They loved each other deeply that was clearly evident, but they had their share of hardship and sorrow. Both spent many years of their marriage with ongoing and often severe health issues. Charles worked tirelessly. He was dedicated to pastoring his flock and his many commitments associated with that. He spent sometimes upwards of 18 hours a day working and traveled frequently. Because of Susie’s own health problems she was unable to travel with Charles which meant they were often separated. Despite their time apart and their hardships they worked together, encouraged one another, prayed faithfully for each other, ministered together, and were dedicated to one another. Susie was truly Charles’ helpmate and he adored and cherished her. The book also tells how he often encouraged her to pursue her own faithful service to Christ. He cheered her on often just as she did him and Charles wrote her a letter every day they spent apart. She prayed for him, offered him wise counsel and pointed him to Christ daily. She was certainly a woman of noble character.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM SUSIE ON MOTHERHOOD
One thing that stood out to me as incredibly impactful was that Charles and Susie placed a huge emphasis on family worship. Worship always took place, no matter where they were they would worship together as a family. This included reading scripture, discussion, prayer and singing of hymns. It truly was the core of their parenting. They were dedicated to creating a home and environment that exalted Christ above all things. Charles was often away from home, but family worship was always upheld by Susie. Susie and Charles pointed their boys to Christ daily, not just by their words and teaching of scripture, but by their character.
In the book, Ray says this, “Charles called all to look upon Christ Jesus. He believed that parents — and mothers in particular have a sweet influence on the family and the little ones.” Thomas said his mother’s self sacrifice and “earnest pleading” he believes directly impacted his early conversion.
Susie was a young Victorian woman living in London when she met Charles at the age of 19. Her initial impression of him wasn’t anything to write home about. However, not long after their initial introductions Charles had heard that Susie was longing to strengthen her faith. He sent her an illustrated copy of his favorite book, The Pilgrims Progress. From there their friendship grew and before long Charles expressed his deep feelings for her and the rest is as they say “history”
Early on in there marriage Susie and Charles traveled frequently together. Then after Susie began having health problems which caused her to be bed ridden or at least confined at home most of the time, traveling together no longer happened. It’s said that Susie read the Bible from cover to cover every year and focused on meditating on small portions of scripture at a time. Which is something that I do as well, so I loved learning that about her! I found that little tidbit to be encouraging. She was faithful in many different ministries despite being of poor health and mostly confined to her home. She also authored several books of her own. Her most well known and in her words, “the joy of her life” was her book fund ministry. Susie saw the benefit in pastors having access to biblically sound books to help them as they prepared sermons and shepherded their flocks. She was burdened knowing there were so many poor pastors that didn’t have the means to grow their libraries. With the encouragement and support from Charles, Susie began the Book Fund in 1875. It’s said the fund distributed over 200,000 volumes, to more than 25,000 pastors. Most of books sent out were her husband’s own works. The thousands of letters she received from grateful pastors strengthened her and encouraged her so much over the years.
While the Book Fund was an incredible ministry with far reaching impacts, her greatest legacy was her dedication to and love for her husband. Ray Rhodes says this, “Her greatest legacy is her ministry to and love for her beloved husband and her advocacy of his writings. Susie’s marriage to Charles was truly a lifelong romance, Charles could not have met the demands of ministry, have written so prolifically, and have left such an incredible mark in history without the encouragement of Susie.”
Something I thought quite wonderful was that she never tried to keep Charles from his work for the Lord, she never wanted to hinder him. Her loving support and self sacrifice made it easier for him to write sermons, preach, author his many books, and feed Christ’s sheep.
It was ever the settled purpose of my married life that I should never hinder him in his work for the Lord, never try to keep him from fulfilling engagements, never plead my own ill health as a reason why he should remain at home with me.Susannah Spurgeon
This book was such a joy to read. I loved learning more of their marriage and reading pieces of their love letters. Their devotion to each other is heartwarming and beautiful. I believe so much can be learned from the lives of Susie and Charles, as man and wife, as parents, and as children of God. For them it was always about Jesus, trusting in and sharing His gospel.
“Susie understood that faith in Christ and obedience to His teaching was essential to enjoying the rest that He provides.” — Ray Rhodes
Thanks for stopping by friends!