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Life is frustrating

When John Paton was 11 years old, he won the Latin Prize at school. The deputy principal was so impressed with John’s paper, that he drew particular attention to the work, and announced that he would pass on the award to John’s teacher, to be presented to John the following day. But by the end of a frustrating week, the teacher gave the gold half-sovereign prize money to another boy, and duly and publically caned Paton for getting only 29 out of 30 in his next exam.

So early in life John Paton learned two things. That life is not always fair, and that God can be trusted despite it all. The first he learned at school. The second from his godly parents who taught him from the Book. It’s actually the very lesson that the writer of Ecclesiastes urges us to embrace. To “remember your Creator in the days of your youth”, and that though “everything is frustrating” (vanity), God is still sovereign and to be trusted and honoured and loved, and that at the end of time, he will call all things into judgement and will right all wrongs.

Not long after Paton arrived on one of the islands of Vanuatu, which was to be the subject of his life’s missionary work, his new wife Mary died of pneumonia. It broke his heart, and especially when his infant son Peter passed away soon after. But he had learned his theology early in life, and so stayed at his post, and Islands were blessed through his godly life and gospel witness.

DM 16th July 2013

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