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I was moved by this touching description of Charles Hodge with his fifty-one year-old dying wife Sarah.

The next death that visited Hodge was infinitely dearer to him. On Christmas Day 1849, just four months after her return to Princeton with her daughter and grandchild, Sarah “softly & sweetly fell asleep in Jesus.” She most probably fell victim to uterine cancer.

Sarah’s health had begun to deteriorate soon after her return, and by December her condition was such that Hodge had lost all hope of recovery. In her final weeks, he personally nursed Sarah, spending countless hours simply lying next to her. During these times, he held her hand, and conversed with her when she had the strength. The depth of their love remained so intense that Hodge later commented that “to the last she was like a girl in love.” During her final weeks, Sarah asked Hodge to tell her in detail “how much you love me,” and they spent time recounting the high points of their life together.

Hodge’s last hours with his wife were particularly poignant. As her life ebbed away, Sarah looked at her children gathered around her bed and quietly murmured “I give them to God.” Hodge then asked her if she had thought him a devoted husband to which she replied as “she sweetly passed her hand over” his face: “There never was such another.” (Charles Hodge, 258)

Married couples, if you imagine that your final moments together will be like this, rejoice and again I say rejoice. Let the thought of such bittersweet sorrow put your present troubles and conflicts in perspective. But if this scene feels like an impossible dream, what must you change now so you and your spouse can die like this later?

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32 thoughts on “There Never Was Such Another”

  1. Paul says:

    Wow, is about all I can say. I hope to one day have that kind of intimacy with my wife.

  2. Very moving. This illustrates Rob Moll’s concept in “The Art of Dying” on how to “die well”. We in the church have lost the preciousness of a hundred years or more ago when Christian families observed the death of saints. Instead we die medicated without such communication after our life has been prolonged by doctors perhaps. I think Sarah’s death is so precious.

  3. a sinner saved by grace says:

    Although I struggled for many years with discontent in my marriage and on several occasions contemplated (and even investigated) divorce, by God’s grace my husband and I now share a similar love, appreciation, and tenderness toward one another. Thanks be to our precious Savior.

  4. While I can appreciate the emotional sentiment here I would caution those who are making it the goal as the last paragraph seems to. There are husbands/wives out there who please God everyday in their love and sacrifice for there spouse only to receive a slap in the face at the end of each one from an unrepentant companion. However, they will receive Christ, their reward, at the end and he will say, “Well done”. That should be the goal of any marriage. Your spouse may never change and love you like Hodge’s did, but you can always please God in how you love and serve them.

  5. Al Roth says:

    Beautifully said dear Charles! Margie and I celebrated our 39th anniversary on the 2nd of September. I can only pray that I can repeat this on one of our death beds.

  6. Reg Schofield says:

    Thanks for making a grown man shed tears . What a wonderful story of love anchored in the grace of Christ.

  7. K says:

    Michael: Of course this sweet intimacy should be a goal of marriage. That it does not always happen is a tragedy, and indeed not always within the control of the spouse walking in the faith. We mourn with the spouse who has not known this intimacy, but we do not stop seeking it. And yes, our ultimate goal, possible whether or not our spouse is faithful, is pleasing the Lord, and we rejoice most in intimacy with Him.

  8. cheryl says:

    So sweet and so timely. My husband of 37 years and I are waiting to hear if I have uterine or ovarian cancer and what the next steps are for us. God is with us, He is in control and we are walking on holy ground…so appreciating so many great years together and so much healing and restoration He has blessed us with. This is a great message for all couples… we never know how much time we will have on this earth together. thank you.

  9. cindy von dem Bussche says:

    What a beautiful picture these words paint to the reader. As I was reading this, I was reminded of my husband’s surprise to me this past week. A renewal service on board a ship in the Virgin Islands. I was stunned as he is not a big romantic but he pulled out all the stops and allowed me to see the man God has made him to be in our 38 years of marriage in a whole new amazing light! I remember thinking I must be the most blessed girl alive and it made me want to make our next 38 to bring even more glory to the Lord as I can see me saying with Mrs. Hodge,” There never was such another.”

  10. K: Thank you for your thoughts brother.

    Also, thank you for your “Just Do Something” book. We are going over it for a Youth/Parents class. Should be lots of good discussion!

  11. Bernice Shupe says:

    After forty years of marriage, 70 years of age, and seven sons later – plus eight granddaughters and two grandsons later – I can say eucharisteo! Indeed I do rejoice and again I say rejoice!!!!! We will die as best friends just as in your beautiful post sent through Ann Voskamp! God bless you richly!

  12. Lea Splane says:

    What a wonderful story, forwarded through Ann Voskamp. God gave me the most wonderful husband 15 years ago after a life of rebellion and then being restored to Jesus after He rescued me. I am truly, truly blessed to love and be loved by this most amazing man.

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  14. Sophia says:

    Such a beautiful story–it made me cry. I truly can’t imagine any other end for my marriage, as this is just the relationship my husband and I have had–to God be the glory.

  15. Jaime says:

    Beautiful. My husband and I just celebrate our 11th anniversary. This brought tears to both sets of eyes! Thank you for sharing this.

  16. James says:

    Thankfully our redemption is not dependent on our last act on earth. Having said that, I’m challenged with the idea that regret and sorrow may be experienced by the one on earth I love most because of my caddishness prior to a potential untimely death. By his grace may we act as though each word or action is our last, and measured in grace and love. Thanks for the reminder.

  17. Needing Grace says:

    After 50 plus years together: loving, testing, cherishing, enduring, sharing, forgiving, you encorage me to release the insignificant smaller irritations…and embrace the larger significant gift of love and faithfulness.

  18. DaveS says:

    Homosexuals need not apply. This is only for the straights, right?

  19. Helen says:

    56 years with a spiritual leader husband . Then the message came that our heavenly father had taken him home–a gift from God that I had taken for granted. No time to say Goodbye –I love yous are precious

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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