My Heart in His Hands

My Heart in His Hands

My Heart in His Hands

A Pillow for the Judson

At some point we all have felt the pangs of death, perhaps others deeper than others. I do not wish to be insensitive in how we deal with grief. I have lost loved ones, and I have failed terribly in how I dealt with it. But praise be to God! In His mercy, He did not leave me to my ruin!

The Christian's greatest consolation in times of sorrow and hardship is an unwavering trust in the sovereignty of God. The confidence that nothing comes our way besides that which the Lord has willed gives us hope to endure. As Charles Spurgeon puts it, the sovereignty of God is a pillow on which the Christian rests his head.

The life of Adoniram Judson displays this fact well. He went down to be a missionary in Burma together with his first wife Ann Judson. Together, they endured loss including facing death. Yet their faith in the sovereign God was unwavering. After fifteen years in marriage, Ann Judson died. Adoniram married Sarah Boardman but she died eleven later. Adoniram then married his third wife, Emily Chubbuck. They were married for about five years before his death.

Sharon James documents the lives of these saints with a focus on Ann Judson in her book, My Heart in His Hands- a fitting title about the life of people who fully yielded to God. I wish to give a glimpse of this by sharing some of their letters and diary entries in times of loss and grief as documented in this book.

We assuredly will come face to face with death. Yet as Christians, we face it with the hope that it will finally be dealt with and it will die too. Adoniram Judson wrote this in his diary after losing his dear wife and their two children:

"Death mocks at us and tramples our dear hopes and our lives in the dust. Dreadful tyrant, offspring, and ally of sin! But go on now and do thy worst. Thy time will come. The last enemy that shall be destroyed, is death. Yes, awful power, thou shall devour thyself and die…I hope, myself, though all unworthy, shall be rescued from the power of death and the grave; and when the crown of life is set on our heads, and we know assuredly that we shall die no more, we shall make heaven's arches ring with songs of praise to Him, who hath loved us and washed us from our sins through his blood"

God desires to be the center of our very life. He may use loss to remind us of this fact. The young family lost their first child at eight months of age. Ann reflects in a letter to her mother on this tragedy;

"Little did I think when I wrote to you last, that my next letter would be filled with the melancholy subject on which I must now write. Death, regardless of our lonely situation, has entered our dwelling and made one of the happiest families wretched. Our little Rodger Williams, our only little darling boy, was three days ago laid in the silent grave. Eight months we enjoyed the precious little gift, in which time he had so completely entwined himself around his parents' hearts, that his existence seemed necessary to their own. But God has taught us by afflictions, what we would not learn by mercies-that our hearts are his exclusive property, and whatever rival intrudes he will tear it away…But what shall I say about the improvement we are to make of this heavy affliction? We do not feel a disposition to murmur or to inquire of our Sovereign why he has done this. We wish, rather, to sit down submissively under the rod and bear the smart, till the end for which the affliction was sent shall be accomplished. Our hearts were bound up within this child; we felt he was an earthly all, our only source of innocent recreation in this heathen land. But God saw it was necessary to remind us of our error, and to strip us of our only little all. O may it not be in vain that he has done it. May we so improve it, that he will stay in his hand, and say, ' It is enough."

We are consoled that we may console each other. Sarah Boardman was a colleague of the Adonirams. When she lost her husband, Adoniram consoled her in this letter (Sarah Boardman became his wife five years later after writing this letter):

"My dear sister, you are now drinking the bitter cup whose dregs I am somewhat acquainted with. And though, for some time, you have been aware of its approach, I venture to say it is far bitterer than you expected. It is common for persons in your situation to refuse all consolation, to cling to the dead, and fear that they shall too soon forget the dear object of affections. But don't be concerned. I can assure you that months and months of heartrending anguish are before you, whether you will or not. I can only advise you to take the cup with both hands and sit down quietly to the bitter repast which God has appointed for your sanctification. As your beloved, you know that all his tears are wiped away and that the diadem which enriches his brow outshines the sun. Little Sarah and the other have again found their father, not the frail, sinful mortal that they left on earth, but an immortal saint, a magnificent, majestic king. What more can you desire for them? While, therefore, your tears flow, let a due proportion be tears of joy. Yet take the bitter cup with both hands, and sit down to your repast. You will soon learn a secret, that there is sweetness at the bottom. You will find it the sweetest cup that you ever tasted in all your life. You will find heaven coming near you, and familiarity with your husband's voice will be a connecting link, drawing you almost within the sphere of celestial music"

Saint, there is nothing like needless suffering for a believer. We can hope, not only for us but for our dear ones that have gone through suffering, that indeed Christ himself will wipe away their tears, and give them a crown for their endurance. Adoniram wrote this letter to Ann's Mother after she died:

"Oh, with what meekness, patience, magnanimity, and Christian fortitude, she bore those sufferings! And can I wish they had been less? Can I sacrilegiously wish to rob her crown of a single gem? Much she saw and suffered from the evil of this evil world, and eminently was she qualified to relish and enjoy the pure and holy rest into which she has entered. True, she has been taken from a sphere, in which she was singularly qualified, by her natural disposition, her winning manners, her devoted zeal, and her perfect acquaintance with the language, to be extensively serviceable to the cause of Christ.; true, she has been torn from her husband's bleeding heart, and her darling babe; but infinite wisdom and love have presided, as ever, in this most afflicting dispensation. Faith decides, that it is all right, and the decision of faith, eternity will soon confirm."

Indeed, faith decides, that it is all right, and the decision of faith, eternity will soon confirm.

Excerpts from " My Heart in His Hands" by Sharon James


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Sherry serves with Hope City Bible Church in the Media Team. She is passionate about Practical Evangelism and Women Discipleship