Thoughts on the Way Home

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Henry Martyn on Happiness

Henry Martyn (missionary to India and then Persia) was suffering from tuberculosis and had been sea-sick on a ship for many days. He had no Christian fellowship, and writes that he "longed for nothing so much as to be settled quietly at my old station, or still more amongst my kind friends at Calcutta." Additionally, his realization that he would never marry the woman he loved (Lydia) was weighing heavy on him once again. He was miserable, and wanting relief. In these pathetic conditions he laid in his bed trying to imagine what perfect happiness would be like in hopes of receiving comfort. He couldn't do it. He then records this in his journal:

"After trying this thing and that, I see that there is enjoyment rather in giving than receiving...and to deny oneself for the good of others, rather than to have a great number of good things for oneself. It is a greater happiness to obey God than to please self. Thus solid bliss is built on the ruins of selfishness..."

The last line is worth reading again.