I am enjoying a wide diet of reading on my vacation (see some of it here). One tome of particular enjoyment is God’s Passion For His Glory: Living The Vision Of Jonathan Edwards (John Piper).
One thing Susan and I were recently discussing, after two years of pastoring in St. Cloud and over five years in vocational ministry, is the ever-present nature of trial, affliction, and suffering amidst the people we serve. How do we face such weighty concerns? The family of Edwards provides a marvelous example. Imagine sons, daughters, and a spouse – all members of the family – constantly soaking in an environment where a passion for the glory of God in all things is taught, lifted up, understood, fleshed-out, and delighted in. What might it look like when trial would strike?
Here is how Edwards’ daughter Esther responded when her beloved husband died after only five years of marriage, taken from a letter to her mother two weeks after his passing:
I would speak it to the glory of God’s name, that I think he has, in an uncommon degree, discovered himself to be an all-sufficient God, a full fountain of all good. Although all streams were cut off, yet the fountain is left full. I think I have been enabled to cast my care upon him, and have found great peace and calmness in my mind, such as this world cannot give or take…Give me leave to entreat you both, to request earnestly of the Lord, that I may never despise his chastenings, nor faint under this his severe stroke. (p. 71).
Jonathan Edwards died on March 22nd, succombing to a small-pox inoculation gone bad. His wife Sarah wrote this letter to her daughter Esther (two years after Esther had lost her husband), the two now sharing the loss of husbands, and Esther a beloved father:
What shall I say: A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it, he has made me adore his goodness that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left to us! We are all given to God: and there I am and love to be. Your ever affectionate mother, Sarah Edwards. (p. 73)
What a legacy he left indeed! I do pray that I will so understand the glory of God and its implications, and be so altered, that I would create a spouse, sons, and daughter who would live this way; and furthermore, leave this legacy to our spiritual children at Calvary Community Church.
May God make it so, for his everlasting glory and our abundant and everlasting joy. Amen!