“If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.”
This morning, while waiting for a friend, I was listening to a CD of John Piper talking about Adoniram Judson. Adoniram (whom I have nicknamed AJ from now on) was a pioneer missionary to Burma (now called Myanmar) in the early 1800’s. I was so enthralled by the story of his life that I plan to read his biography, To the Golden Shore, just as soon as I can get my hands on it.
Most people, upon hearing Adoniram’s story, would say that AJ was dealt an unfair hand in this life. After choosing to be “all in” for Christ, he had numerous hardships and endured great suffering; his first and second wives died before him (the second one on a voyage back to the United States to treat her disease); many children born to him in his first, second and third marriages died in infancy or childhood, he was wrongly imprisoned and tortured for 19 months and accused of being a spy; his converts were few at the beginning; and his work at translating the New Testament in the Burmese language was tedious and difficult. Such was the life of a missionary in those times. But AJ persevered and continued to die again and again to his desires, his affections, his comforts, and his will.
Because of the life he lived--and the life he gave up-- when he died at age 62, in the 38th year of his ministry, Adoniram Judson left seven thousand Burmese believers behind as a testimony. And then he entered the presence of his Savior and his true home…where he suffers no more.
What struck me most about AJ was this: He totally trusted in the One whom He had chosen. When bad things happened to him, when his life fell to pieces, he was able to say, “If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” He KNEW that God loved him and would only do what was best for him—even if the “best” looked like horror to him.
He really trusted God…I don’t do that.
I worry about the future and about what I would do if something happened to my husband or one of my kids. I refuse to do some things because I am scared of the outcome. I don’t pray, “God, increase my faith” because I think He might take something away from me. How pitiful I am…and how weak my trust in the Almighty God.
If I am to truly be effective in this scary, changing, and lost world, I must hold on to the Truth that is comforting, unchanging, and secure. If I say I want to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone, I MUST TRUST HIM FULLY. I MUST NOT FEAR SUFFERING. For I know that anything he orders is allowed out of an infinite love and perfect mercy. I must make the decision to believe that God is always good.
God is ALWAYS good even when I “feel” like He isn’t.
AJ said another thing which made me stop and examine my heart. As he was speaking on one occasion, a Hindu man exclaimed that the gospel couldn’t possibly be true because a great king would never subject his son to suffering as Jesus endured. AJ quickly took the man aside and said, “You are not a true disciple. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is true to his own reason, but whether it is in the Book. Your pride has not allowed you to yield to the Divine Testimony.”
A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is true to his own reason…my mind…my feelings. A true disciple looks in the book …the Bible…to see if the “fact” is truly true.
Am I just being proud when I determine “rightness” of things based on my feelings? Yes.
Do I need to deny myself and remember that everything I suffer is ordered in Love? Yes.
Do I need lots of grace for this? You bet.
As my old buddy, Oswald Chambers says, "I need to believe God is always the God I know Him to be when I am nearest to Him."
So, next time I am faced with fear that is raw and emotions that tempt me to doubt my Father, I will remember AJ and say “What would AJ do?” And I will do it. So help me God.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:10-11