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Susannah Spurgeon: A Faithful Wife

Olivia Hansen March 28, 2024

Susannah Spurgeon experienced both tremendous joys and agonizing suffering throughout her life, but the legacy she left behind testifies to her ultimate hope in the Lord and her undying faithfulness to her husband. She lived a life of service and devotion to God and her husband, and was ever his constant encourager and source of both incredible joy and comfort. Thought she was often incredibly ill and spent many years as an invalid, she remained steadfast in trusting the Lord and His sovereign plan in all things and sought to serve both in her own home and church body. Mrs. Spurgeon should serve as a beautiful example of a joy-filled life that was grounded in the truth of God’s word and dedicated to pursuing good works. Her life and position as Spurgeon’s wife can be viewed as an exemplary model of genuine and glad service that was characterized by humility, love, active faith, and strength of character. Looking upon her life of service should leave one with the encouragement to live in the same hope that characterized her life – a life of faithfulness and endurance. While reflecting upon her life’s work and role as Charles’s wife, she thoughtfully said, “I thank God that he enabled me to carry out this determination and rejoice that I have no cause to reproach myself with being a drag on the swift wheels of his consecrated life. I do not take any credit to myself for this; it was the Lord’s will concerning me, and He saw to it.”[1]

When Susie Met Charles

Susannah was not impressed when first introduced to Charles Spurgeon, but soon afterward found incredible comfort and spiritual encouragement from his preaching, conversations, and marked devotion to the honest state of her soul. She reflected later in life that “None could have more needed the quickening and awakening which I received from the earnest pleadings and warnings of that voice, — soon to be the sweetest in all the world to me.”[2] In their blossoming relationship, she had found a man who would lead and guide her in the Lord; he had found a woman in whom he could honestly confide, discuss deep spiritual truths with, share his burdens, receive comfort, and shepherd in the truth and light of God’s word. She not only supplied him with these qualities, but further served him in tender love and care, as both were continually drawn closer to one another in genuine and enduring affection. Susannah functioned as a comforter and devoted helper to her husband, and sought to uphold him amidst the burdens he carried. Throughout their marriage, “Charles also benefited from Susie’s spiritual encouragement of him,”[3] and his life was ever enriched by her Christ-centered companionship. Charles later said, “My wife’s presence is also a main ingredient in my cup, which runs over with mercies.”

Love and Sacrifice

While being married to Charles Spurgeon was one of the most distinct blessings in Susannah’s life, being the wife to such a prominent and devoted man was not an easy role. In an incident just prior to their marriage in which Spurgeon forgot about Susannah’s presence due to his immense focus on his Gospel proclamation, she had to face a difficult truth. She realized that his calling was to be a faithful and steadfast minister, and that she must not seek to detract or distract him from his work, but rather uphold him in it. This honest assessment of a life of sacrifice for the sake of her husband’s work in the Gospel was not easy, but it was a task that she intentionally took up with joy and dedication. After being forgotten by Spurgeon and discussing it with him and her mother, she said, “It was ever the settled purpose of my married life that I should never hinder him in his work for the Lord.”[4] She understood from that point on that, though it meant giving up many of her own personal desires, her life was to be one of willful and glad service to her husband in his devoted work to the Lord.

Their marriage was marked by deep affection, and the many letters that the couple wrote to each other over the years give a glorious glimpse into their tenderly rich love for one another. They would often spend sweet time together on Sunday evenings after Spurgeon’s work was complete, and Susannah would frequently read aloud. Spurgeon felt at times that he had not preached as earnestly as he ought to, and upon reading from Baxter’s Reformed Pastor, “husband and wife would sob and weep together, he ‘from the smitings of a very tender conscience towards God,’ and [she] because, she ‘loved him and wanted to share his grief.’”[5] She was ever involved and invested in his work. While her health permitted, she served alongside him in their church and “often gave spiritual consolation to women and girls who were in trouble about their souls.”[6] They worked alongside one another for the Lord and His glory, and in many instances when the public would slander Charles, Susannah “stood like a shield between him and the arrows of wickedness, quenching their fiery darts most easily with the shield of domestic love.”[7] Susannah loved him deeply, and sought to build him up not only in his work, but also in his own personal walk with the Lord. She truly was his helpmate, and determinedly lived out her life in steadfastness to Charles.

Service and Suffering

Mrs. Spurgeon knew the worth of her husband’s work, and this truth encouraged her to build him up in it, while he at the same time looked for any way to care for and tenderly love his wife. Proverbs 31:11-12 could very well be applied to Susannah Spurgeon: “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” She lived and served to bless and support her husband in the Lord and in his efforts to serve Him and those who were placed in his path. In this excerpt from a letter he sent to Susannah, it is easy to perceive the great love and trust Charles had for his beloved wife:

“My Own Dear One, — None know how grateful I am to God for you. In all I have, ever done for Him, you have a large share, for in making me so’ happy you have fitted me for service. not an ounce of power has ever been lost to the good cause through you. I have served the Lord far more, and never less, for your sweet companionship. The Lord God Almighty bless you now and for ever!”[8]

Charles and Susannah had a marriage that was woven throughout with gentleness, affection, love, and hope, and she repeatedly sought to uphold and strengthen him, especially during some of their most trying hardships.[9]

Only a short while after their twins were born, the terrible tragedy at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall occurred, in which several of Spurgeon’s listeners were killed. While Charles was most seriously dejected and depressed in mind and spirit, Susannah sought to uphold and sustain him. In his book on Mrs. Spurgeon, Ray Rhodes remarks that “Susie’s godly character is one important reason why Charles survived what was both a life-and ministry-threatening tragedy.”[10] Though it was a severe trial that both husband and wife had to endure, Susannah “displayed unusual courage, unwavering faith in God, and deep devotion to her husband.”[11] Susannah herself stated, “Though we may not at the time, see His purpose in the afflictions which He sends us, it will be plainly revealed when the light of eternity falls upon the road along which we have journeyed.” Her strength of faith and character are abundantly evident here as she conveys her trust in the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty. In his book Yours till Heaven, Ray Rhodes remarks, “It is likely that Susie was the human means that God used to not only rescue Charles’s ministry but also to save his life.”[12] Her support of Charles and genuine trust in the Lord in the midst of trials should encourage and convict all who reflect upon her life and realize that her faithfulness was supplied through the Lord’s power and work in her life. She remained steadfast in her identity as one beloved by Christ, and the humility and sacrifice with which she lived her life testify to her devotion to the Lord and those around her.

Though Susannah served within the church while she was well, her sickness often prevented her from regular work, and at the encouragement of her husband, she thus undertook Mrs. Spurgeon’s Book Fund. In this endeavor, she sought to provide theologically sound books to pastors in need, and she began by sending out her husband’s first volume of his Lectures To My Students. In the course of her life, she sent out thousands of books. Her heart’s desire was ever to serve the Lord and those around her, and she thus continued the Book Fund until her death. She considered this work the joy of her life and was thankful for the opportunity to be of such service to the many poor pastors throughout England and abroad.[13] Her life of willful and joy-filled service was not an easy or carefree task, but she sought to model the faithfulness of Christ in her life which serves as a beautiful example of true and humble devotion.

A Faithful Wife

            After this short summary of only a few main facets of Susannah Spurgeon’s life, what conclusions can be drawn? Her steadfast devotion to the Lord is evident in her life of humility and sacrifice, and it can be clearly seen that she was a faithful follower of her Lord. When she became Charles Spurgeon’s wife, she realized that this was also in God’s sovereign plan, and sought to live her life in glad service to her husband which was marked by sacrificial love and encouragement. Her life should not be forgotten or drowned under the exaltation and praise of her husband but should be appropriately held on to and remembered as an exemplary life of joy-filled service. One should recall the faithfulness with which she endured many sufferings and see the grace of Christ in her life as she sought to honor the Lord and her husband. She set his interests and desires above her own and loved him deeply, even after his death had left them separated. As she reflected on some of Charles’s letters to her after his death, she wrote,

“That I smiled on them then, and weep over them now, is but a natural consequence of the more complete separation which God has willed for us, – he, dwelling in the land of glory, — I, still tarrying amid the shadows of earth; — but I verily believe that, when I join him, ‘beyond the smiling and the weeping,’ there will be tender remembrances of all these details of earthly love, and of the plenitude of blessing which it garnered in our united lives.”[14]

Susannah Spurgeon was a woman of steadfastness, both in her faith and in her constant affection for her husband. The indelible impact she had upon his ministry was one that greatly benefited and blessed both himself and his work. The Lord used her as a flame that continued to ignite and spur him on in his dedicated proclamation and living out of the Gospel. Her constancy in service and encouragement should be taken to heart by all who remember her and should consequently push them towards the source of her joy, strength and hope: the Lord Jesus. Looking upon her life leaves one with the clear and tender understanding that she was indeed a most encouraging, steadfast, and faithful wife.

[1] Ray, Mrs. C.H. Spurgeon, 32-33.

[2] Spurgeon’s Autobiography, vol.3, 11.

[3] Rhodes, Susie, 134.

[4] Rhodes, Susie, 134.

[5] Ray, 21.

[6] Ray, 29-30.

[7] Rhodes, Susie, 79-80.

[8] Spurgeon’s Autobiography vol. 2, 21.

[9] Rhodes, Yours till Heaven, 82.

[10] Rhodes, Susie, 99.

[11] Rhodes, Susie, 107.

[12] Rhodes, Yours till Heaven, 82.

[13] Rhodes, Susie,139.

[14] Spurgeon’s Autobiography, vol. 3, 175.