I was reflecting last night on something I'd recently read about John Owen. Owen, an Englishman, was born in 1616 and is generally regarded as one of the greatest bible teachers and theologians since records began. One of things that made him great was that his intellect was channeled into his ministry as a pastor. His writing is deeply practical and contains a huge passion to see people walk in holiness and thereby know intimacy with Jesus.
Not much is known about his life. But we do know this. He had eleven children and all of them, except one, died in childhood. The other died as a young adult. Owen's wife also died, when he was 59 and after 31 years of marriage. Since his marriage, and until the time of his death, he experienced the birth of a child or the loss of a child every three years.
"How great the pain of searing loss".
Unbelievable pain and brokenness. You just can't get your head round it. But what intrigues and challenges me is the link between his profound experience of loss and and his profound experience of God. What causes one man to run from God in the face of suffering and another to run to him? To what extent did God allow his suffering in order to shape the man for his purpose of writing great theology that would strengthen the Church for hundreds of years to come? I can't escape the truth of Hebrews 12 that tells us that if God is our Father then he will train and discipline us in what ever ways he deems neccesary for his sovereign and glorious purpose. As I said, hard to get your head round.