In the summer of 1851, the dead body of missionary Allen Gardiner was found by a search party. Gardiner’s body was found hidden in a boat in which he had taken refuge during his last days on land. The small group of missionaries had been shipwrecked on Tierra del Fuego (Argentina). Eventually their provisions ran out, and death slowly overtook each of them.

We know the final thoughts of Allen Gardiner because of his journal, and from a series of letters he wrote to his family that were found beside him. He was, at one stage, completely desperate for water. He wrote that the pangs of thirst were “almost intolerable.” Far from home, he died alone–starving, isolated and physically broken. Yet, despite his wretched conditions, Gardiner seems to have found an unusual intimacy with God in his final days and hours.

One can only imagine how miserable and painful his death must have been–physically, spiritually and emotionally. We do know that he wrote out passages of Scripture, by hand, to force himself to think about what was true and right. But what struck me most about his story was a final entry he penned. It was this: “I am overwhelmed with a sense of the goodness of God.”

I’ve sat with many people who’ve endured far less, and listened as they blamed God for their problems and circumstances. And yet, here was a missionary dying alone–dying of thirst, dying of hunger, utterly abandoned (humanly speaking), and yet choosing to praise God, and refusing to blame Him in the least. What a remarkable example for all of us.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor
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