Hannah Whitall Smith was a young woman when the Civil War was raging. Here faith in a difficult time is exemplary.
Our prosperous nation has been plunged into a civil war, the horrors of which we are just beginning to feel. The state of money matters is distressing and Robert has suffered great losses so that we have been obliged in every way to reduce our expenditures. We rented our Germantown house for the summer and moved to a place belonging to Robert’s father. But as it was not healthy there, we have left it, and are now entirely unsettled as regards our future.
It does not distress me in the least for I know that the “Lord is my Shepherd” and therefore “I shall not want,” and I am perfectly content to leave all my future in His care. I feel indeed that it is my greatest privilege that I may thus leave it with Him, for who or what am I that He should care for my welfare? A poor sinner saved by grace, this is what I am and what I love to be! And after all I well know it is not what I am, but what Christ is that is of any importance. For the safety and well being of the flock depends not upon what they are, but altogether upon what the Shepherd is. And the Lord is my shepherd! well, may I say therefore that “I shall not want!”
As to my spiritual life, I hardly know what to say. I am still just what I was a year ago, and what I was two years ago “a poor sinner and nothing at all and Jesus Christ is my all in all.” What more could I say than that? Yet while I can write to His praise that my Saviour has been unchangeably faithful to me during all this past year, I must confess to my bitter shame that oftentimes I have been very faithless to Him. Oh, how could I, how can I! It is good for me that He is just the Saviour He is, or there would be no hope for me. No other one could have borne with me, no other could continue to love me! But He does! This is His blessedness! “He is the same yesterday today and forever,” and in Him is no variableness nor even shadow of turning. He is just exactly the Saviour I need, and is all I need! No words can even begin to tell what He is! Oh, that I were a more faithful disciple!
—Journal, August 6, 1861
Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).