Upon the Burning of Our House

On July 10, 1660, the house of Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet burned to the ground, leaving her destitute of earthly possessions. She shares the pain she felt in a poignant poem.

When by the ruins oft I past

My sorrowing eyes aside did cast,

And here and there the places spy

Where oft I sat and long did lie:

Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,

There lay that store I counted best.

My pleasant things in ashes lie,

And them behold no more shall I.

Anne understood the pain that always accompanies the loss of familiar and precious possessions. Anne understood, and expressed, the pain felt by believers of every era who must live through a period when God arises to judge their societies.

But Anne also understood the secret of dwelling among the consuming fires that burn then. Her poem continues:

Raise up thy thoughts above the sky

That dunghill mists away may fly.

Thou hast an house on high erect,

Framed by that mighty Architect,

With glory richly furnished.

Stands permanent though this be fled.

It’s purchased and paid for too

By Him who hath enough to do.

A price so vast as is unknown

Yet by His gift is made thine own;

There’s wealth enough, I need no more.

Farewell my self, farewell my store.

The world no longer let me love,

My hope and treasure lies above.

The secret? To realize that the fires can burn only what is destined to pass away. And to remember that what God has purchased for His own stands permanent, though all in this world be fled.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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