DURING THE next seven years Mr. Muller’s problem was one of trusting for daily supplies. There were three houses to be maintained, and about a hundred orphans to be clothed and fed. The daily expenditure was heavy, the rent considerable, and the personal needs of his helpers were great. In addition to this, the work of the Institution, assisting schools, paying teachers, running Sunday schools and helping missionaries demanded a constant stream of money flowing in.
Early in 1838 sickness fell heavily upon the leader, and as his custom he went to his knees in the midst of his affliction. While reading the Bible his eyes fell upon the 68th Psalm and in the course of his meditation, the words “A father of the fatherless” stood out in mighty letters as a divine promise in this stressful hour.
“This word, ‘A father of the fatherless’,” he affirms, “contains enough encouragement to cast thousands of orphans, with all their needs, upon the loving heart of God.”
From then on the burdens were not his but the Lord’s. He cast them from his shoulders through loving trust upon the broad arms of the Master. During June God tested his faith by suddenly shutting off the gifts which had so abundantly flowed in. Muller took the matter to the Lord.
He enters in his Journal under date of July 22 (1838), “This evening I was walking in our little garden... meditating on Hebrews 13:8, ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.’...All at once the present need of the Orphan-House was brought to my mind. Immediately I was led to say to myself, Jesus in His love and power has hitherto supplied me with what I have needed for the Orphans, and in the same unchangeable love
and power He will provide with what I may need for the future. A flow of joy came into my soul...”
This soul joy was the fore announcer of a coming blessing. “About one minute later a letter was brought to me, enclosing a bill for twenty pounds,” he writes.
In this case God’s timing was perfect, for when the need existed, and Muller had prayed, the next moment the supply was forthcoming.
Throughout that turbulent year Mr. Muller’s faith was sorely tried, for often there was not a single penny in the houses; but God was leading him forth, proving and testing him in the smaller things, so that later he might be able to feed as many as two thousand children daily through the instrument of prayer.
On September 18 the funds were exhausted, and Mr. Muller thought of selling the things that could be done without in the homes. “This morning,” he writes, “I had asked the Lord, if it might be, to prevent the necessity of our doing so.”
That afternoon a lady from London, who had been staying in Bristol, brought a package with money in it from her daughter who had sent it several days before. “That the money had been so near,” declares Mr. Muller, “for several days without being given, is a plain proof that it was in the heart of God to help us; but because He delights in the prayers of His children, He had allowed us to pray so long...to try our faith and to make the answer so much the sweeter.”
During this time Mr. Muller’s health was not good and his friends asked him to go away for a rest, but he refused, saying, “I must remain to pass with my dear Orphans through the trial, though these dear ones know nothing about it, because their tables are as well supplied as when there was eight hundred pounds in the bank; and they have lack of nothing.”
Many times he was forced to say, “The funds are exhausted.” But not once did these words hold true overnight. Funds might have been depleted during the day, at times all day, again for hours, but when nightfall came there was something on hand for the next day. With this faith apostle, this meant daily trusting for today’s needs.
It was during these direful days that Muller declared, “Long before the trials came, I had more than once stated publicly that answers to prayer in the time of need — the manifestation of the hand of God stretched out for our help — were just the very ends for which the Institution was established.”
Sometimes in plenty, but oftener in poverty, his faith carried the orphanages on. Many times in dire straits the money would arrive at the very moment of prayer, or as he was reading the list of needs for the day. His trust in “the father of the fatherless” was so confident that not once did he turn a child away.
Under date of August 8, 1839, he affirms, “Though there is no money in hand, yet are we so little discouraged that we have received today one orphan boy, and have given notice for the admission of six other children, which will bring the number up to 98 altogether.”
Often gifts came in at the very instant of prayer. On March 5, 1839, he writes, “Whilst I was in prayer, Q. Q. sent a check for seven pounds...”
Closing the report for the year 1839, he sums up the bounteous blessing of God, saying, “For the Orphan Houses, without anyone having been asked by us, the sum of £3,067 8s. 9 1/4d. has been given entirely as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work to December 9, 1839.”
The following year was started without enough money to carry through the first day. A peculiar incident occurred that day which showed Mr. Muller’s character. After the usual Watch night service, about an hour past midnight, a friend, whom Mr. Muller knew to be in debt, handed him a sealed envelope with money in it. “I resolved, therefore, without opening the paper to return it....This was done when I knew there was not enough in hand to meet the expenses of the day.”
Seven hours later, “about eight this morning,” a brother brought five pounds for the orphans. “Observe, the brother is led to bring it at once.” God honored Mr. Muller’s faith in giving back the money he knew the lady needed to pay her debts more than the orphans needed it.
On January 12, 1841, after he had been forced to delay printing his yearly report because of a lack of funds, he notes that the Lord supplies this need and in addition $5,000 was received for missionary work in the East Indies. Here is his prayer testimony concerning this the largest gift he had thus far received, “In all my experience I have found...that if I could only settle a certain thing to be done was according to the will of God, that means were soon obtained to carry it into effect.”
God never failed His servant. Often he was led through the valley of great want, but always to the shining peak of supply. God’s dealings were generous. One day in 1841 when Mr. Muller had taken only a shilling from the house box, a lady came with twopence, saying, “It is but a trifle, but I must give it.” It so happened that one of the pennies was needed to make up the amount of money necessary to buy bread!
A week later a single penny was needed to fill out the dinner menu...but no penny was in hand. When the Girls’ box was opened out rolled one penny. “Even the gift of a penny,” states Muller, “was thus evidently under the ordering of our kind Father.”
At the close of the year, he affirmed, “We are now brought to the close of the sixth year of this...work (December 9), having in hand only the money which has been put by for the rent; but during the whole of this year we have been supplied with all that was needed.”
During the next three years Mr. Muller literally fed the orphans out of God’s hand. The supply was almost like that of the manna in that it was to be gathered each day afresh. There was scarcely anything left over from one day to another. Often money had to be prayed in before breakfast could be eaten or the evening meal finished.
But Mr. Muller’s faith was so dominant that however much they need, he rested calmly in the divine assurance that God’s hand would contain a bounteous supply when the moment arrived. He and worry parted forever. Though he was deeply concerned, he never fretted at delay in receiving answers to his requests.
On February 15, 1842, his attitude is typical. “I sat peacefully down to give myself to meditation over the Word, considering that was now my service, though I knew not whether there was a morsel of bread for tea in any one of the houses, but being assured that the Lord would provide. For through grace my mind is so fully assured of the faithfulness of the Lord, that in the midst of the greatest need, I am enabled in peace to go about my other work. Indeed, did not the Lord give me this, which is the result of trusting in Him, I should be scarcely able to work at all.”
His mind was fixed in God and would not be moved, for he knew at the proper time the money or the food would arrive.
March 19 began in poverty and dire need, only seven shillings having come in during three days. ‘There was not one ray of light as far as natural prospects.” So Mr. Muller proposed to his workers that the day be set for prayer. When they met at ten-thirty, immediately by three separate people twenty-one shillings were brought in. They called a similar session of prayer for the evening, for there were yet three shillings lacking. Before the evening service was over the three shillings had arrived, plus an additional three.
Week by week God led Muller into deeper lessons of trust, always closing the day’s trust sessions with a speedy answer. On April 12, he affirms, “We were never in greater need than today, perhaps never in so much, when I received this morning one hundred pounds from the East Indies. My prayer had been again this morning particularly that our Father would pity us, and now at last send larger sums. I was not in the least surprised or excited when this donation came, for I took it as that which came in answer to prayer and had been long looked for.”
During these testing days Mr. Muller was often asked how he managed to build such a strong faith in God. He replied that he endeavored to keep his faith in God strong not only for daily supplies of food for the orphans and money for the missionary work but also for the spiritual concern of the world.
“Let not Satan deceive you,” writes Mr. Muller during those faith-wrenching days, “in making you think you could not have the same faith, but that it is only for persons situated as I am. When I lose such a thing as a key, I ask the Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to my prayer; when a person with whom I have an appointment does not come...I ask the Lord to be pleased to hasten him to me, and I look for an answer...Thus in all my temporal and spiritual concerns I pray to the Lord and expect an answer to my requests; and may not you do the same, dear believing reader?”
In giving advice gained through daily trials of his faith, this father of the orphans laid down rules for Christians to follow by which they might also strengthen their faith. These rules are:
1. Read the Bible and meditate upon it. God has become known to us through prayer and meditation upon His own Word.
2 Seek to maintain an upright heart and a good conscience.
3. If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened.
“The last important point for the strengthening of our faith is that we let God work for us, when the hour of trial of our faith comes, and do not work a deliverance of our own.”
“Would the believer therefore have his faith strengthened, he must give God time to work,” he declares.
The year 1843, as the previous, was one of trials and triumphs of faith. In June there was no money, but before each day was over prayer supplied the lack. In December came mighty loads upon Mr. Muller’s heart. He exercised faith and proclaimed that the work undertaken was not particularly to feed the orphans, as great as this was, nor for their spiritual welfare as glorious and blessed as this is.
“The primary object of the work is,” he observed, “to show before the whole world...that even in these last evil days the living God is ready to prove Himself as the living God, by being ever willing to help...and answer the prayers of those who trust in Him.”
Attesting the glorious supply which he daily obtained from God’s hand, he says, “The narrative of the events of these days is imperfect. The way in which the Lord stretched out His hand day to day, and from meal to meal, cannot be accurately described.”
Even his own personal needs were supplied by the Lord on this “each day for itself” basis.
For one hundred and thirty-four days he daily asked the Lord to send a gift a lady had promised in 1842. The answer came on March 8, 1843. He affirms, “Day after day now has passed away and the money did not come...whilst day by day I brought my petition before the Lord that He would bless this sister...At last, on the one hundred and thirty-fourth day since I daily besought the Lord about this matter...I received a letter from the sister, informing me that the five hundred pounds had been paid into the hands of my bankers.”
This day by day experience of eating from God’s outstretched hand was slowly leading up to a turning point in Mr. Muller’s career. God had far grander accomplishments in store for him than merely feeding a hundred orphans. At first God wanted to know whether his servant would be faithful to his prayer trust in these smaller matters before leading him forth to the greater work.
This new turn in affairs began on March 31, 1843, when Muller called at the Houses to make arrangements for the day, and a worker told him that a Miss G, who occupied house No. 4 on Wilson Street, had informed her that they wished to give up their house, and if possible wanted Mr. Muller to take it for another orphan House.
“When I came home,” Mr. Muller informs us, “this matter greatly occupied my mind. I could not but ask the Lord again and again whether He would have me to open another Orphan House, and whether the time was now come that I should serve Him still more extensively in this matter.”
He reviewed the situation carefully, finding that there were more applications for admission than he had room to care for, and that fifteen of the children in the Infant House were old enough to be promoted to the Girls’ House. Until this time there had been no other house on Wilson Street, near the present places occupied, for rent. There were also two sisters who would take care of the new house if and when opened.
In the bank was three hundred pounds of the recent large gift which could be used to furnish the new house.
Surveying these conditions, he turned to the Spirit for leadings. “I therefore gave myself to prayer. I prayed day after day, without saying anything to any human being. I prayed two and twenty days without mentioning it to my dear wife. On that day on which I had come to the conclusion...to establish another Orphan House, I received fifty pounds from A.B. What a striking confirmation that the Lord would help though the necessities should increase more and more.”
He realized what this added burden would mean. For five years he had trusted each day for its supplies, and the new house would only increase this load on his faith life. In spite of this his belief in God commanded a forward march, for Muller never tired of “this precious way of depending upon the Lord from day to day.”
While he was praying about the new house, a lady from Germany, recently blessed by his work, asked him to visit that country. She felt his influence would be a benediction to his native land. But it seemed unwise for Mr. Muller to leave at the time, and besides, it would require many hundreds of pounds to leave with the overseers for the orphans, as well as to finance his trip. Moreover, he desired to publish a German edition of his life story, “A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with Mr. George Muller.”
The publication alone would take between a hundred and two hundred pounds. Yet he realized however great the obstacles, if it be the Lord’s will, he would go. “I could not but pray about it,” he informs us. “I could not but feel drawn to go to Germany in love of the Lord and in pity towards the poor Church of Christ in that country.” He remembered the few truly converted ministers to be found there and in Prussia when he was a young man. His faith began to prevail.
“I had a secret satisfaction,” he writes, “in the greatness of the difficulties...So far from being cast down on account of them, they delighted my soul...I did nothing but pray. Prayer and faith...helped me over the difficulties.”
From the human standpoint there was little prospect of receiving the necessary funds, but leaving the matter to the Lord, he was overwhelmed with a peaceful calm. “...my soul is at peace. The Lord’s time is not yet come; but when it is come He will blow away all these obstacles.”
Less than fifteen minutes after he had prayed on July 12, God sent in seven hundred and two pounds three shillings and seven pence. Early in August, after fifty days of waiting on the Lord, he and his wife were on their way to Germany.
While in Stuttgart, Mr. Muller labored to reform the Strict Baptist Church in the city, but met with severe opposition. While the visit seemed a failure, however, it was checkered with a blessing. For he was enabled while there to translate the “Narrative” into German and 4,000 copies came from the press before he sailed for Bristol in February, 1844.
After a second German trip, where he reestablished the work of faith begun in Stuttgart, he returned to England to begin anew his prayer quest for funds to open the fourth orphan house. When he was to take the house offered him on Wilson Street, a difficulty arose which caused him to examine carefully God’s will in the matter.
Before going on his first German trip he felt certain that God was opening the way for the house to be operated. For nearly ten years he had rented houses for his orphans, and “had never had any desire to build an Orphan House. On the contrary, I decidedly preferred spending the means which might come in for present necessities, and desired rather to enlarge the work according to the means the Lord might be pleased to give. Thus it was till the end of October, 1845, when I was led to consider this matter in a light in which I had never done before.”
God was preparing to thrust him forth in another faith adventure which would surpass even his most extended dreams. God had been carefully schooling him in trust lessons, and now that he had learned how to believe for daily supplies, and for months had literally been fed meal by meal from God’s hand, the Father of the fatherless was to open a new and untried door for him.
Mr. Muller was willing to step into any door the Master would set ajar.
The matter climaxed in a decidedly unusual manner on October 31, 1845. When he was about to rent the vacated house near his other properties, a man wrote stating that the orphan houses were a detriment to the neighboring house owners. He was courteous and kindly in his remarks, but firm nevertheless. The man felt that in various ways the neighbors were inconvenienced by the Orphan Houses on Wilson Street. He left the matter to Mr. Muller’s wise judgment.
This was a new item which Muller’s faith had not previously faced. He did, however, want to live peacefully with his neighbors, so he took the request to prayer. Carefully he weighed the pro and con arguments for moving from Wilson Street. To move, he knew, meant to build, and up until this time he had not thought it God’s will to take this step of faith. But God’s time was about to arrive and Mr. Muller had learned to step when God’s hour struck, however massive the problem or vexing the difficulty.
From "George Muller - the Man of Faith" by Basil Miller