Gifts in a Fallen World: An Email from Sono Harris

Sono's sons bearing her casketSeveral people have asked me for copies of an email from Sono Harris that I read at her memorial service. Thought I should share it with more of you. No need to have known Sono in order to appreciate her words and her quotes from Thomas Brooks and John Newton.

I have thought how much I am going to miss Sono’s emails. At her service, I told the crowd that "I have many wonderful friends, some of them are here today, but I am not going to miss your emails and you’re not going to miss mine. I’ll read you one of her emails, which will explain why I told Nanci that when Sono wrote I felt like I was getting emails from Charles Spurgeon."

Three years ago I asked people on our EPM prayer list to pray about some depression I was experiencing. This was her response:

Date: July 04, 2007 - 0:19, after midnight, exactly three years—to the day—before she died:

Sono's service at Good ShepherdDear Randy,

Thank you for sharing your prayer request.  Honestly, it brought me to tears because there are so many things (like your battle with depression) that I hate about this world.

As I have been praying for you, the Lord brought two things to my mind.  I hope and pray that God will use them to encourage your heart.

First is a quote by Thomas Brooks (whose 'pithy extracts' Spurgeon loved): “Ah, believer, it is only Heaven that is above all winds, storms, and tempests; God did not cast man out of Paradise that he might find another paradise in this world.”

And the other was a song by John Newton:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He'd answer my request
And by His love's constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
"Tis in this way" the Lord replied
"I answer prayer for grace and faith"

"These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me."

Randy Alcorn, Gregg Harris, and Stu WeberOh, Randy, it seems that His servants who are used in special ways often experience commensurate trials.  These trials are simultaneously burdens God gives to keep them utterly dependent; and thorns which pin back the veil that hides His face.  In a fallen world, they are gifts.

Prayerfully, Sono

Just when I thought I had heard the best possible insights from Thomas Brooks and John Newton, the words that touched me the most were from Sono Harris: “These trials are simultaneously burdens God gives to keep them utterly dependent; and thorns which pin back the veil that hides His face. In a fallen world, they are gifts.”

Rose photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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