On Sunday we talked about God’s sovereignty over life difficulties, and transforming power of trusting in His unstoppable power. When you’re caught out in the wind and the lightning, it makes all the difference to know whose storm it is.
A poignant example of this kind of attitude comes from the life—or, more properly, the death—of Jonathan Edwards, America’s greatest theologian and a man powerfully used by God during the 18th-Century Great Awakening.
Having just been installed as president of Princeton college, he received a rudimentary smallpox vaccination that went terribly wrong. Sensing that his death was approaching, he summoned his daughter and communicated these words to her:
Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a nature, as I trust is spiritual, and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God. And as to my children, you are now like to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father, who will never fail you. And as to my funeral, I would have it be like Mr. Burr’s; and any additional sum of money that might be expected to be laid out that way, I would have it disposed of to charitable uses.
Days later, at the age of 54, Edwards died. This is how his wife Sarah shared the news with her daughter:
My very dear child!
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 us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.
Your affectionate mother,
That’s what it looks like to trust in the God of the storm. The storm itself does not go away, but our experience in it is completely transformed as we rest in the sovereign mercy of Yahweh.