God’s Grace and Our Sickness, from Doug Nichols and Matthew Henry

Doug and Margaret NicholsI’m breaking from the longing theme, and will come back to Pascal on longing later this week. But I’m going to start doing some shorter and more conventional blogs from time to time. The sort of things I pass on to my friends, but which I’ll put in blog form instead, making them available to more people. I’ll still have the longer blogs, usually once a week.

Meanwhile, I want to thank everyone for the incredible response on the book drawing for Safely Home. Over 150 people have responded already, and I think we’ll be giving away more than three books in light of that. But I’ve really been touched by the kind notes and statements about God using my books in people’s lives. (I read every single note.) Thank you. I didn’t anticipate this, but it is certainly encouraging. I think the monthly book giveaway is a welcome addition to this blog, and I hope you’ll participate in coming months as well.

My friend Doug Nichols, pictured above with his wonderful wife Margaret, is the founder of Action International, one of my favorite ministries in the world. If you’re wondering about a worthy missions work to support, I highly recommend Action. (And Doug has a new blog too, http://dougnichols.blogspot.com, which will provide great missions-related info.)

But here’s something I want to share with you, in a recent letter from Doug Nichols:

Years ago my oncologist said it was worth a million dollars to him to have one of his serious cancer patients respond to his care as I did. He called one night (during my cancer treatment) in a panic, saying tests showed my cancer had returned with a vengeance. However, later tests proved the tests were mistaken! He and my surgeon told me on one occasion that my cancer situation was the worst they had ever treated!

Even though I did not die fourteen years ago as expected, there is always the possibility that cancer (or any other sickness) can reoccur and this be my last year before glory (this could be your last year as well). I was reading of the great commentator and pastor, Matthew Henry, who died in June 1714; on January 1 of that year he wrote:

Matthew Henry“I, this morning, renewed the dedication of myself to God, my whole self, body, soul, and spirit. Father, I give Thee my heart; use me for Thy glory this year; employ me in Thy service; fit me for Thy will. If this should be a year of sickness and pain; if a year of family affliction; if a year of public trouble; if of silencing and suffering; bonds and banishment; if it be my dying year, welcome the holy will of God. If this is a year of continued health, peace and liberty, Lord I desire to be busy in Thy service, both in study and preaching, in entire dependence upon Your divine grace, without which I am nothing, and can do nothing.”

That day, Matthew Henry preached a sermon to young people from Proverbs 23:26: “My son, give me thy heart.” He then added in his diary the following affectionate and devout aspiration, “Lord, take my heart and make it such as it should be.”

Many thanks to Doug Nichols and Matthew Henry for enriching me with these thoughts.

J S Bach wrote the initials SDG at the end of his compositions. It stood for Soli Deo Gloria: To God alone be glory. That characterized the objective of Matthew Henry, and it expresses the heart of Doug and Margaret Nichols. May the same be true of us.


Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries