Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

01 October 2012

A Grief Sanctified by JI Packer

I've just finished reading A Grief Sanctified by JI Packer.  It includes Richard Baxter's breviate - think A Grief Observed by CS Lewis but written 1681 - written soon after his wife Margaret died.  Richard Baxter reflects on Margaret's life and deep faith, her gift to him as his wife, her suffering and her death and then his own grief. 

JI Packer has taken Baxter's breviate and included it in the book A Grief Sanctified, with a few editorial changes and explanations. Either side of the breviate itself, Packer has drawn some of his own conclusions on the Puritan experience of life, marriage, death, suffering and grief. 

It's a fine read, with some sober reflections on the sometimes shallow nature of our modern take on life, marriage and death.  Which is not to say that the Puritan experience of life (and death) is where our stereotypical thoughts might possibly take us. You know, dressed in black and all very serious and upright.  Far from it.  Here were two people who loved one another to bits, loved life, loved God and lived lives full of joy, despite all sorts of attendant difficulties. Margaret and Richard Baxter understood sanctification - and they enjoyed some of the immediate benefits of it in their lives.

Over the next few days I am going to post a quote in three sections - JI Packer's summary of the puritan experience of the sanctification of grief.  That is, how the Puritans managed their grief with a view to bringing God all honour and glory, even the darkest of moments - a view that Packer endorses. 

No comments: