Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, by Ray Rhodes
DECEMBER 22, 2018
Susie Spurgeon finished writing the note—she had penned hundreds like it over the years—and placed it carefully inside the cover of the book The Gospel of the Kingdom.
Her late husband, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the English Baptist pastor renowned as the “Prince of Preachers,” had written the book. The book, a commentary on the gospel of Matthew, was Spurgeon’s final work, which Susie described as “the last sweet, loving labor for the Master’s glory of the heart and hand now cold in death.”
Following the death of her husband on January 31, 1892, and still mourning her deep loss, Susie had wondered what the Lord would do with her, a frail and lonely widow. Would she continue her seventeen-year book ministry to poor pastors? She decided, yes: “God constrained me to the service, and strengthened me for it, in order to keep heart and mind from dwelling too constantly upon my loneliness and grief.”
As the books her husband authored passed through her hands, they stirred memories in Susie’s mind. She remembered the early days of their marriage when she and Charles had journeyed across the continent. A smile came to her face as she reflected on rowing in a gondola with her beloved along the Grand Canal through Venice. Romance had filled their hearts in the city that she described as “dreamy.” Even ordinary days held joy. Charles tenderly addressed her as “my darling” and “my precious love.”
They had delighted in each other, despite their many trials. Susie recalled feeling the first signs of her declining health, as sharp pains pierced her body. She had eventually undergone surgery that left her mostly confined to home. Years of sickness followed.
Susie’s chance to actively serve others arrived the day Charles handed her the first volume of his newest book, Lectures to My Students. She was so delighted with his masterful work that she wished every pastor in England could have a copy, free of charge.
Charles looked at his wife and said, “Well, Susie, will you make it happen?” Surprised by her husband’s challenge, Susie retreated to an upstairs room, paused to catch her breath, and then retrieved a small stash of money that she had stored away in a drawer. “Perhaps the Lord will use this small offering to provide a few books to pastors,” she thought. She never dreamt, however, that this experience would lead her to invest the remainder of her days in service to pastors and their families.
Susie administered a book fund and an aid ministry that supplied books, money, clothes, and other supplies to needy pastors. She was a prolific author of five books and a major contributor to other publications. Susie supported the Metropolitan Tabernacle, opened her home as a place of hospitality, served as the “Mother” of the Pastors’ College, and was even instrumental in planting a church.
Though her hopes, dreams, and service were joined to Charles during his life and ministry, Susie also had a life filled with joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams for twenty-two years prior to meeting the great preacher and for almost twelve years after his death. It was God’s provision of her parents, family, Christian leaders, friends, and experiences that helped mold Susie into a godly and persevering woman who became so beloved to her husband and so useful to the kingdom of God. And it was the grace of God that sustained her in the years following Charles’s death.
Ten years later, on a crisp October day in 1903, Susie, who died at seventy-one, lay in a lily-draped casket, carefully positioned in the middle of the library just outside Charles’s study where she had so often sat at his desk writing encouraging words to pastors and reflecting on God’s hand in her life.
Though it is impossible to consider Susie in isolation from Charles Spurgeon, she was a remarkable woman in her own right. Her only prior biographer, Charles Ray, concluded of her that Susie would live on “not only as the wife of Charles Haddon Spurgeon . . . but as herself.”
Taken from Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, Wife of Charles H. Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes (©2018). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission.