In a sketch of the life of Beate Paulus, the wife of a German minister who lived on the borders of the Black Forest, are several incidents which illustrate the power of living faith, and the providence of a prayer-hearing God.
Though destitute of wealth, she much desired to educate her children; and five of her six boys were placed in school, while she struggled, and prayed, and toiled, not only in the house, but out of doors, to provide for their necessities.
“On one occasion,” writes one of her children, ”shortly before harvest, the fields stood thick with corn, and our mother had already calculated that their produce would suffice to meet all claims for the year. She was standing at the window casting the matter over in her mind, with great satisfaction, when her attention was suddenly caught by some heavy, black clouds with white borders, drifting at a great rate across the summer sky. 'It is a hailstorm!' she exclaimed, in dismay; and quickly throwing up the window, she leaned out. Her eyes rested upon a frightful mass of wild storm-clouds, covering the western horizon, and approaching with rapid fury.
“O God!" she cried, "there comes an awful tempest, and what is to become of my corn?" The black masses rolled nearer and nearer, while the ominous rushing movement that precedes a storm, began to rock the sultry air, and the dreaded hailstones fell with violence. Half beside herself with anxiety about those fields, lying at the eastern end of the valley, she now lifted her hands heavenward, and wringing them in terror, cried:
"Dear Father in heaven, what art thou doing? Thou knowest I cannot manage to pay for my boys at school, without the produce of those fields! Oh! Turn Thy hand, and do not let the hail blast my hopes!"
Scarcely, however, had these words crossed her lips, when she started, for it seemed as if a voice had whispered in her ear:
"Is my arm shortened that it cannot help thee in other ways?"
Abashed, she shrank into a quiet corner, and there entreated God to forgive her want of faith.
In the meantime, the storm passed. And now various neighbors hurried in, proclaiming that the whole valley lay thickly covered with hailstones, down to the very edge of the parsonage fields, but the latter had been quite spared. The storm had reached their border, and then suddenly taking another direction into the next valley. Moreover, that the whole village was in amazement, declaring that God had wrought a miracle for the sake of our mother whom he loved.
She listened, silently adoring the goodness of the Lord, and vowing that henceforth her confidence should be only in Him.”
At another time she found herself unable to pay the expenses of the children’s schooling. The repeated demands for money were rendered more grievous by the reproaches of her husband, who charged her with attempting impossibilities, and told her that her self-will would involve them in disgrace. She, however, professed her unwavering confidence that the Lord would soon interpose for their relief, while his answer was: “We shall see; time will show.”
In the midst of these trying circumstances, as her husband was one day sitting in his study, absorbed in meditation, the postman brought three letters from different towns where the boys were at school, each declaring that unless the dues were promptly settled, the lads would be dismissed. The father read the letters with growing excitement and spreading them out upon the table before his wife as she entered the room, exclaimed:
“There, look at them, and pay our debt with your faith! I have no money, nor can I tell where to go for any.”
Seizing the papers, she rapidly glanced through them, with a very grave face, but then answered firmly:
"It is all right; the business shall be settled. For He who says: “The gold and silver are mine," will find it an easy thing to provide these sums." Saying which she hastily left the room.
“Our father readily supposed she intended making her way to a certain rich friend who had helped us before. He was mistaken, for this time her steps turned in a different direction. We had in the parsonage an upper loft, shut off by a trap-door from the lower one, and over this door it was that she now knelt down, and began to deal with Him in whose strength she had undertaken the work of her children’s education. She spread before Him those letters from the study-table, and told him of her husband’s half-scoffing taunt. She also reminded Him how her life had been redeemed from the very gates of death, for the children’s sake, and then declared that she could not believe that He meant to forsake her at this juncture. She was willing to be the second whom He might forsake, but she was determined not to be the first.
In the meanwhile, her husband waited downstairs, and night came on; but she did not appear. Supper was ready, and yet she stayed in the loft. Then the eldest girl, her namesake Beate, ran up to call her; but the answer was: "Take your supper without me; it is not time for me to eat." Late in the evening, the little messenger was again dispatched, but returned with the reply: "Go to bed; the time has not come for me to rest." A third time, at breakfast next morning, the girl called her mother. "Leave me alone," she said, "I do not need breakfast; when I am ready, I shall come." Thus the hours sped on; and downstairs her husband and children began to feel frightened, not daring, however, to disturb her anymore.
At last, the door opened, and she entered, her face beaming with a wonderful light. The little daughter thought that something extraordinary must have happened; and running to her mother with open arms, asked eagerly: "What is it? Did an angel from heaven bring the money?" "No, my child” was the smiling answer; "but now I am sure that it will come." She had hardly spoken, when a maid in peasant costume entered, saying: "The master of the Linden Inn sends to ask whether the Frau Pastorin can spare time to see him?"
"Ah, I know what he wants," answered our mother. "My best regards, and I will come at once." Whereupon she started, and mine host, looking out of his window, saw her from afar, and came forward to welcome her with the words: "O madame, how glad I am you have come!" Then leading her into his back parlor, he said: "I cannot tell how it is, but the whole of this last night I could not sleep for thinking of you. For some time, I have had several hundred gulden lying in that chest, and all night long I was haunted by the thought that you needed this money, and that I ought to give it to you. If that be the case, there it is - take it; and do not trouble about repaying me. Should you be able to make it up again, well and good; if not, never mind.”
On this my mother said: ‘Yes, I do most certainly need it, my kind friend; for all last night I too was awake, crying to God for help. Yesterday there came three letters, telling us that all our boys would be dismissed unless the money for their board is cleared at once.
“Is it really so?" exclaimed the innkeeper, who was a noble-hearted and Christian man. "How strange and wonderful! Now I am doubly glad I asked you to come! Then opening the chest, he produced three weighty packets, and handed them to her with a prayer that God’s blessing might rest upon the gift. She accepted it with the simple Christian words: "May God make good to you this service of Christian sympathy; for you have acted as the steward of One who has promised not even to leave the giving of a cup of water unrewarded."
“Husband and children were eagerly awaiting her home; and those three dismal letters still lay open on the table, when the mother, who had quitted that study in such deep emotion the day before, stepped up to her husband, radiant with joy.
On each letter she laid a roll of money, and then cried: ‘Look, there it is! And now believe that faith in God is no empty madness!“
- Wonders of Prayer
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893