"Mark the error of despair. We should see that the case of a praying man cannot be desperate---that if a man be out of the pit of hell, he is on the ground of grace. We should see that God sees a way of escape when we see none---that nothing is too hard for him---that He warrants our dependence, and invites us to call on Him in the day of trouble, and gives promise of deliverance." John Newton wrote that. John Piper calls him a "great and tender warrior against despair in other people's lives. Long trials, like this one that Ian and his family and friends are going through often tempt us to despair. Their response of faith, instead of despair continues to teach us all the truth of what John Newton said hundreds of years ago, and continues to prove that God never changes. He takes perfect care of His people; from Adam and Eve to Ian and his loved ones. In John Piper's "Life as a Vapor" he tells us that Newton's favorite poet, George Herbert, lived more than 100 years before him, and then goes on to record one of Herbert's poems. This is how I want to instruct my own soul:
Away, Despair! My gracious Lord doth hear:
Though winds and waves assault my keel,
He doth preserve it: He doth steer,
Ev'n when the boat seems most to reel:
Storms are the triumph of His art:
Well may He close His eyes, but not His heart.
Hundreds of years after our brother, George Herbert lived to write that line, our God proves it to be true for His children today. His greatest, most precious, loveliest, and most enduring works are done during the storms of our lives. "...in faithfulness You have afflicted me." Ps. 119:75. It's in the storms where our hearts are revealed, and our most loving Father knows that our sin is far more dangerous and deadly to His children than any trial or affliction could ever be. This is a long and hard trial that He's brought into our friend's lives; one that I don't think that I could bear up with the grace and dignity that they have and are. Let's be hard in prayer against the temptation of despair, while we wait for their son and brother and our friend to wake up.