Daily Word of Grace # 165 (November 2, 2020)
In his early fifties the great Anglican priest and poet John Donne (1572-1631) suffered what he fully expected to be a terminal illness. During his illness he wrote Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624). In describing relapses in sin and/or sickness he observes, “It adds to the affliction, that relapses are (and for the most part justly) imputed to ourselves, as occasioned by some disorder in us; and so we are not only passive but active in our own ruin; we do not only stand under a falling house, but pull it down upon us; and we are not only executed (that implies guiltiness), but we are executioners (that implies dishonor), and executioners of ourselves (and that implies impiety) (146).” That’s the bad news. What do we do with that? Donne does the only thing we can do: prays for God’s mercy—“But because, by too lamentable experience, I know how slippery my customs of sin have made my ways of sin, I presume to add to this petition too, that if my infirmity overtake me, thou forsake me not” (152). God is a God of mercy, and on Good Friday Jesus took the weight of the falling houses in our lives upon himself, and was executed in our place on the cross. In other words, God answered that prayer for John Donne, for he survived that illness and lived until 1631—and God will answer that prayer for you too, because the Lord promises, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Love and Prayers,