August 22: David Brainerd

This Day in Presbyterian History:

God is the Only Soul-satisfying Portion

We have often in this series of Presbyterian highlights through American history taken time to inquire in the Diary of David Brainerd.  In the life of this young missionary to the Indians of his day, he reveals much of himself, and us through him, as well as speaks to the things that are primary  in our lives.  This day is no exception to that rule.

In his travels, David Brainerd had experienced some success in reaching the hearts and souls of the various tribes of Indians.  Some had responded to the gospel.  Others were convicted by the Word of God.  There seems to be some “success” in his desires that Christ be found among them, and in them.

Yet immediately after this high point in his life, he goes through a real deep valley experience which bring him low.  He speaks of it as “sore inward trials,” and how he has lost any confidence that qualified himself to be a missionary to the Indians.  He is exceedingly depressed in spirit.  He sees that there is too much self-exaltation, spiritual pride, and warmth of temper in him.  He is ashamed and guilty before God.  He goes through what we might call a “dry period” of Christian experience.  But listen to what he writes on the Lord’s day, which is August 22, 1742.

“In the morning, continued still in perplexity.  In the evening, enjoyed that comfort that seemed to me sufficient to overbalance all my late distress.  I saw that God is the only soul-satisfying portion, and I really found satisfaction in Him.  My soul was much enlarged in sweet intercession for my fellowmen everywhere, and for many Christian friends in particular, in distant places.”

In short, he found that the source of joy is found in the Lord his God, and as he was able to rest in Him, all depression and perplexity vanished away as he glorified God and enjoyed Him forever.   

Words to live by: It was the Psalmist Asaph in Psalm 73 who asked and answered what David Brainerd (and ourselves) was experiencing here.  Verse 26 reads, “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (NASB) May this text benefit you, dear reader, this day and always.

Through the Scriptures: 1 Chronicles 1 – 3

Through the Standards:  The definition of prayer:

WLC 178  —  “What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.” 

WSC 98 — “What is prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.”

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