Still Elizabeth pressed on cheerfully, looking beyond her bodily state to her joyous fellowship with family, friends and God. She loved her hometown of Portland, Maine, where she taught school and wrote poetry and articles for a Christian youth magazine.
But the earthly joys that alleviated Elizabeth's suffering were not to last.
At age 27, she married a minister who accepted a call to a church in New York City, far from her beloved home, students and friends. In time, two children brightened their life and brought warmth to the big city.
Then tragedy struck. Their oldest child succumbed to illness, and before the grieving parents could recover from that blow, their youngest child died, also. The inconsolable mother wrote in her diary: "Empty hands, empty hands, a worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to be free from a world that has so many sharp experiences."
One day, after visiting the cemetery, Elizabeth broke out in tears and cried, "Our home is broken up, our lives wrecked, our hopes shattered, our dreams dissolved. Sometimes I don't think I can stand living another moment, much less a lifetime."
Elizabeth was a candidate for suicide. And who could have blamed her? Constant physical pain, and now the inner agony of bereavement. Just a little nudging from a counselor or a doctor who specialized in "relieving" such suffering with a needle or gas, and Elizabeth might have been gone.
Instead, she opened her Bible and discovered that God revealed Himself to the patriarch Jacob in his times of deepest sorrow and need. She prayed that He would manifest Himself afresh to her heart.
Rising from her knees, Elizabeth Payson Prentiss penned the words to a hymn that has lifted hearts out of depression for over 100 years: "More Love To Thee, O Christ." In the second verse, Elizabeth summarizes her pilgrimage from earthly longings to heavenly aspirations:
Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek--
Give what is best.
Elizabeth Prentiss discovered that quality of life is measured by the object of our affections. She learned to "set (her) affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).