William Carey Trusting God Through Tragedy and Suffering


The following story is an excerpt from the book Finishing Well in Life and Ministry by Bill Mills and Craig Parro dealing with the topic of Christian ministry burnout.

William Carey, “the father of modern missions,” faced a ministry disappointment of overwhelming proportions. Only by resting in God’s sovereign purposes was he, like Habakkuk, able to endure and not burn out. Carey began his missionary career in India in 1793. He labored in that country for forty continuous years, never once returning to his native England.

frontispieceCarey was a brilliant linguist, translating portions of Scripture into over a dozen Indian languages. One afternoon after twenty years of plodding labor in that country, all of his work went up in smoke. A fire raged through his printing plant and warehouse. All of his printing equipment was destroyed, but most tragically, many of his precious manuscripts were completely consumed by the fire. Of course, Carey had no computer back-up files or Xerox masters. Twenty years of non-stop labor were gone within a few hours.

How would he respond to this crushing devastation? How would you respond in similar circumstances? Listen to the words which Carey wrote to his pastor-friend, Andrew Fuller, in England:

“The ground must be laboured over again, but we are not discouraged…We have all been supported under the affliction, and preserved from discouragement. To me the consideration of the divine sovereignty and wisdom has been very supporting…I endeavored to improve this our affliction last Lord’s day, from Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” I principally dwelt upon two ideas, vis.:

1. God has a sovereign right to dispose of us as he pleases.

2. We ought to acquiesce in all that God does with us and to us.”

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