How do Christians deal with the grief that comes with the loss of a loved one? We don’t grieve as those without Christ grieve; we don’t grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
In this episode, we use Hudson Taylor as our guide to godly grief. Taylor was a missionary to China. He was born into a heritage of godly families. He learned through prayer to God, to depend upon God for his needs. He lived to a ripe old age and spent almost his entire life spreading the gospel in China.
Every believer will experience grief at some point in their life. Thankfully, we can look to the saints who have come before us as an example. We can see how they passed through tragedy and the beauty of their dependence upon God in the midst of it.
In 1869, Taylor was in his late thirties and found within himself a deep longing for a more consistent personal godliness. He learned to rest in Christ’s sufficiency—to cast all of his hope on Christ. It was in this season that he was faced with the great loss of both his wife and a child. His wife gave birth to their fifth son and shortly thereafter contracted cholera and was unable to feed her baby. Before they could find a wet-nurse, the baby died of malnutrition.
Of his wife’s worsening sickness, Taylor wrote, “Though excessively prostrate in body, the deep peace of soul, the realization of the Lord’s own presence, and the joy in His holy will with which she was filled and in which I was permitted to share, I can find no words to describe.” Often in the initial strong wave of grief, there is a genuine sense of the Lord’s own presence.
Hudson Taylor’s wife grew only more sick. Taylor knew she was dying.
“You will soon be with Jesus,” he told his wife.
“I am so sorry,” she said to her husband, knowing she would be leaving him alone.
“You are not sorry to be with Jesus,” Taylor said.
“Oh, no,” she replied, “it is not that . . . I cannot be sorry to go to Him, but it does grieve me to leave you alone at such a time. Yet He will be with you and meet all your need.”
Taylor committed her to the Lord, thanked Him for giving her to him, and rejoiced that God was taking her into His presence.
“He that cometh to Me shall never hunger…” Would Taylor still believe Jesus' words in the midst of loneliness and suffering and sorrow?
He had written to his mother before his wife and child died, “I find increasing comfort in the thought that all things are really in our Father’s hand and in His governance. He cannot but do what is best.” He wrote after their deaths,
“My views are not changed . . . He and He only knew what my dear wife was to me . . . but He saw that it was good to take her.”
Hudson Taylor was, as he wrote, “Alone. Yet not alone, for God is nearer than ever.”
He was truly glad his wife was with Jesus and glad to go to be with her when the Lord called him to his eternal home. But Taylor pleaded that he would be happy and content serving and obeying Jesus then and there.
To His children, Taylor wrote, “Don’t think of [God] as some dreadful Being. Think of Him as very good and very great, able to do everything, but as gentle and very kind. He likes us to talk to Him. When I’m walking alone, I often talk aloud to Him. At other times, I talk to Him quietly in my heart. Don’t forget, my dear children, that He is always with you. He is really with you, though you cannot see Him. So I hope you will try not to grieve so constant a Friend.”
We often tend to stop drinking even while our thirst continues. We need to be drinking ever more deeply of the Living Water. Only our Heavenly Father can and will satisfy, sustain, and fulfill our every need. Let us cling to Him in times of grief and in times of joy.