John G. Patton, Missionary To The New Hebrides. I’m going to quote from what I read the other day in this book.
“My dear young wife, Mary Ann Robson, — daughter of Peter Robson, Esquire, a well-known and highly esteemed gentleman, at Coldstream on the Borders, — and I were landed on Tanna on the 5th November, 1858, in excellent health and full of all tender and holy hopes. On the 12th February, 1859, she was confined of a son; for two days or so both mother and child seemed to prosper, and our island-exile thrilled with joy! But the greatest of sorrows was treading hard upon the heels of that joy! My darling’s strength showed no signs of rallying. She had an attack of ague and fever, a few days before her confinement; on the third day or so thereafter it returned, and attacked her every second day with increasing severity for a fortnight. Diarrhea ensued, and symptoms of pneumonia, with slight delirium at intervals; and then in a moment, altogether unexpectedly, she died on the 3rd March. To crown my sorrows, and complete my loneliness, the dear baby-boy, whom we had named after her father, Peter Robert Robson, was taken from me after one week’s sickness, on the 20th March. Let those who have ever passed through any similar darkness as of midnight feel for me; as for all other, it would be more than vain to try to paint my sorrows!
“Stunned by that dreadful loss, in tendering upon this field of labour to which the Lord had Himself so evidently led me, my reason seemed for a time almost to give way. Ague and fever, too, laid a depressing and weakening hand upon me, continuously recurring, and reaching oftentimes the very height of its worst burning stages. But I was never altogether forsaken. The ever-merciful Lord sustained me, to lay the precious dust of my beloved Ones in the same quiet grave, dug for them close by at the end of the house; in all of which last offices my own hands, despite breaking heart, had to take the principal share! I built the grave round and round with coral blocks, and covered the top with beautiful white coral, broken small as gravel; and that spot became my sacred and much-frequented shrine, during all the following months and years when I labored on for the salvation of these savage Islanders amidst difficulties, dangers, and deaths. Whensoever Tanna turns to the Lord, and is won for Christ, men in after-days will find the memory of that spot still green, — where with ceaseless prayers and tears I claimed that land for God in which I had buried my dead with faith and hope. But for Jesus, and the fellowship He vouchsafed me there, I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.”
He and his wife left Scotland,full of hopes and dreams, to win the savages of the the New Hebrides. A few months later his wife and son are dead. How does one cope with this sort of experience? How does one makes sense of God at a time like this?
Remember too, he didn’t have a computer, internet access, cell phone, Skype or FaceTime to be able to get in touch with family or friends right away. He was alone with His God trying to work through this difficult experience.
He could have questioned the will of God. He could have wondered if God really led him in the first place. He could have gotten the first boat home. But … he didn’t. He stayed, after losing wife and child, to continue in the will of God to reach these cannibals for Christ. Wow.
I’ve never undergone anything remotely close to this. As I read this, I found myself struggling somewhat. Could I rest, trust, in the Sovereignty of God as he did? They had a spiritual depth and maturity that I’m not sure we believers in America know too much about. But don’t you want to know and experience God like this? If you know Messiah, your heart screams within you saying that you do. This is why we need to get to know the lives of these dear saints that have gone on before us. Their memories need to be preserved. We need our children to know this kind of joy and perseverance in serving God. They need (as well as we adults) to know that there is a cost to serving Yeshua.
Americanized Christianity (including the Messianic movement) needs to be challenged and convicted by the lives of people like this. I fear we are like Samson who, as at other times, shook himself but didn't know that the LORD had departed from him.
We desperately need to take personal inventory and cry to God for His loving hand to conform us to the image of our Saviour. After all, He is the one that said: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23
It’s a Cross not a Cruise.