Monday, 5 September 2011

"I Could Not Endure Existence..."

Henry Martyn (1781-1812) was a missionary to India and Persia. Martyn devoted his life to translating the Bible into Urdu, Persian ans Arabic, and to proclaiming and defending the gospel. Whilst travelling through Persia he caught a fever and, unable to recieve adequate medical treatment, he died aged 31. In a journal entry written nine months before he died, we catch a glimpse of what drove him, and made him willing to make such huge sacrifices for the sake of the gospel. He recalls an incident that took place while he was working at his Bible translation in Persia amongst the muslims:
Jan. 16. [1812] - "Mirza Seid Ali told me accidentally, to-day, of a distich [a short poem] made by his friend Mirza Koochut, at  Teheran, in honour of a victory obtained by Prince Abbas Mirza over the Russians. The sentiment was, that he had killed so many of the Christians, that Christ, from the fourth heaven, took hold of Mahomet's skirt to entreat him to desist. I was cut to the soul at this blasphemy. In prayer I could think of nothing else but that great day when the Son of God shall come in the clouds of heaven, taking venegance on them that know not God, and convincing men of all their hard speeches which they have spoken against Him. 
Mirza Seid Ali percieved that I was considerably disordered, and was sorry for having repeated the verse; but asked what it was that was so offensive. I told him that 'I could not endure existence if Jesus was not glorified; -it would be hell to me, if He were to be always thus dishonoured.' He was astonished, and again asked, why? 'If any one pluck out your eyes,' I replied, 'there is no saying why you feel pain; -it is feeling. It is because I am one with Christ that I am thus dreadfully wounded.' On his again apologizing, I told him that 'I rejoiced at what had happened, inasmuch as it made me feel nearer the Lord than ever. It is when the head or heart is struck, that every member feels its membership.' This conversation took place while we were translating."
Martyn could not bear to see Jesus dishonoured. He was driven by a passionate desire to see Jesus glorified. He loved Jesus so deeply, and was so aware of his being united to Him by faith, that when Jesus was honoured he was full of joy and when He was dishonoured he was deeply grieved.

Martyn's zeal for Jesus' glory stands as a huge challenge to us today. Do we love Jesus so deeply that the tears well up in our eyes as we look on a world where He is not honoured as He should be? Do we long so heartily for Jesus to be glorified that it pains us to hear of Him being dishonoured?