A Life of Self-Denial

In this heart-pounding booklet, “Ann Judson: A Life of Self-Denial” from Chapel Library, we are brought to a life given to God for His glory alone, a woman “whose heart the fire of God’s grace and love burned.”

Her life was really a demonstration of self-denial. She and her husband established the first Burmese church selflessly, a self-forgetting call for missions, an uncertain voyage, persevering despite the death of the people close to her heart (a best friend, two children, & a co-missionary), a ruthless arrest of her husband, extreme poverty with nowhere to lay her and her 3-month old baby, lifelong suffering while seeing the horrible imprisonment of her husband, a seemingly unfruitful labors (it was more than 6 years before the first convert in Burma), failing health, and finally, a resolution to die alone as her husband brought the gospel to a land where God called them to lose their lives.

It all began with a letter of proposal from Adoniram Judson to Ann’s father after a month when he first met her. You can read the story from the link above but I like to put the letter here and a translation for my Filipino readers. Oh, may the LORD help us to be willing to lose our lives for His Kingdom’s sake.

I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean and to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India and to every kind of want and distress and to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all of this for the sake of Him Who left His heavenly home and died for her, for the sake of perishing immortal souls, for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in the hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise that shall redound to her Savior from the heathen saved from eternal woe and despair through her means?

Tagalog Translation: Ngayon ay itatanong ko, kung pahihintulutan mo na mawalay ka sa iyong anak sa susunod na tagsibol at hindi na siya muling makita pa sa mundong ito; kung papahayag ka na siya'y umalis para sa isang paganong lupain at mamuhay bilang misyonero na may pighati't kahirapan; kung papayag ka na siya'y humarap sa kapahamakan ng karagatan at nakamamatay na klima ng India at sa lahat ng kawalan, pagdurusa, paglibak, panlalait, pag-uusig, at marahil sa malupit na kamatayan? Kaya mo bang pumayag sa lahat ng ito para sa Kanya na iniwan ang Kanyang tahanan sa kalangitan at namatay para sa kanya, para sa mga kaluluwang nagdurusa, para sa Zion, at sa kaluwalhatian ng Diyos? Papayag ka bang sa lahat ng ito sa pag-asang makita ulit ang iyong anak sa mundo ng kaluwalhatian, na may putong ng katuwiran na pinaliliwanag ng pagpupuri para sa kanyang Tagapagligtas mula sa mga pagano na niligtas sa walang-hanggang pagkawasak at kawalan ng pag-asa sa pamamagitan niya?

Here are some of the quotations from the booklet that are worth pondering in answering the question, ““Ann Judson: A Life of Self-Denial”

The full moon shone fully on the water... My native land, my home, my friends, and all my forsaken enjoyments, rushed into my mind. My tears flowed profusely and I could not be comforted. Soon, however, the consideration of having left all these for the dear cause of Christ, and the hope of one day being instrumental of leading some poor degraded females to embrace Him as their Savior, soothed my griefs, dried up my tears, and restored peace and tranquility to my mind.
Our little Roger 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…We do not feel a disposition to murmur, or to inquire of our Sovereign why He has done this…Oh, may it not be in vain that He has done this.
She was convinced that although they did not know what was ahead, God most certainly did. Such was Adoniram and Ann’s belief in the providence and sovereignty of God as they spent their honeymoon on a ship headed for India. Surely, His presence was even in this place and each place they traveled.
“The teacher [her husband] is long in coming... I must die alone and leave my little one; but as it is the will of God, I acquiesce in His will. I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid I shall not be able to bear the pains. Tell the teacher that the disease was violent, and I could not write; tell him how I suffered and died.” The last day or two, she lay almost senseless and motionless, on one side—her head reclining on her arm—her eyes closed—and at 8 in the evening, with one exclamation of distress in the Burman language, she ceased to breathe…!
Death mocks at us, and tramples our dearest 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 shalt devour thyself and die. And then my angelic Ann, and my meek, blue-eyed Roger, and my tenderhearted, affectionate, darling Maria, and my venerable father, you, my dear sisters that still remain, our still surviving parents, and 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 in His own blood…

The call to live a self-denying life is indeed a challenge that can only be embraced by a heart changed by God’s grace in Christ to bur for His glory alone. May God help us!

To God be the glory!

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

3 thoughts on “A Life of Self-Denial

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