"It is good for me that I have been afflicted" (Ps. 119:71).
It is a remarkable circumstance that the most brilliant colors
of plants are to be seen on the highest mountains, in spots that
are most exposed to the wildest weather. The brightest lichens
and mosses, the loveliest gems of wild flowers, abound far up on
the bleak, storm-scalped peak.
One of the richest displays of organic coloring I ever beheld
was near the summit of Mount Chenebettaz, a hill about 10,000
feet high, immediately above the great St. Bernard Hospice. The
whole face of an extensive rock was covered with a most vivid
yellow lichen which shone in the sunshine like the golden
battlement of an enchanted castle.
There, in that lofty region, amid the most frowning desolation,
exposed to the fiercest tempest of the sky, this lichen
exhibited a glory of color such as it never showed in the
sheltered valley. I have two specimens of the same lichen before
me while I write these lines, one from the great St. Bernard,
and the other from the wall of a Scottish castle, deeply
embossed among sycamore trees; and the difference in point of
form and coloring between them is most striking.
The specimen nurtured amid the wild storms of the mountain peak
is of a lovely primrose hue, and is smooth in texture and
complete in outline, while the specimen nurtured amid the soft
airs and the delicate showers of the lowland valley is of a dim
rusty hue, and is scurfy in texture, and broken in outline.
And is it not so with the Christian who is afflicted,
tempest-tossed, and not comforted? Till the storms and
vicissitudes of God's providence beat upon him again and again,
his character appears marred and clouded; but trials clear away
the obscurity, perfect the outlines of his disposition, and give
brightness and blessing to his life.
Amidst my list of blessings infinite
Stands this the foremost, that my heart has bled;
For all I bless Thee, most for the severe.
Alone In The Desert
"And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place"
In order to grow in grace, we must be much alone. It is not in
society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single quiet
hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of
company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls
freshest and the air is purest.--Andrew Bonar
"Come ye yourselves apart and rest awhile,
Weary, I know it, of the press and throng,
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.
"Come ye aside from all the world holds dear,
For converse which the world has never known,
Alone with Me, and with My Father here,
With Me and with My Father not alone.
"Come, tell Me all that ye have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears.
I know how hardly souls are wooed and won:
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.
"Come ye and rest; the journey is too great,
And ye will faint beside the way and sink;
The bread of life is here for you to eat,
And here for you the wine of love to drink.
"Then fresh from converse with your Lord return,
And work till, daylight softens into even:
The brief hours are not lost in which ye learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven."
Mind The Checks
"And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of
gentle stillness" (1 Kings 19:12, RV margin).
A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the
Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She
replied tersely, "Mind the checks." And the reason that many of
us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed
to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints.
His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard.
It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and
mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small
voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if
heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice
is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even
faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to
speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if
you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His
gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word,
give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from
speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear
and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion
that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even
if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human
wisdom. Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will.
Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart
and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your
own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to
the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply
listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so
to do. He will in the end make "all things work together," but
so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His
"In His own world He is content
To play a losing game."
So if you would know His voice, never consider results or
possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the
dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will
spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a
fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold
you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most
terrible pressures.--Way of Faith
Through the Fire
"So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his
beginning" (Job 42:12).
Through his griefs Job came to his heritage. He was tried that
his godliness might be confirmed. Are not my troubles intended
to deepen my character and to robe me in graces I had little of
before? I come to my glory through eclipses, tears, death. My
ripest fruit grows against the roughest wall. Job's afflictions
left him with higher conceptions of God and lowlier thoughts of
himself. "Now," he cried, "mine eye seeth thee.
And if, through pain and loss, I feel God so near in His majesty
that I bend low before Him and pray, "Thy will be done," I gain
very much. God gave Job glimpses of the future glory. In those
wearisome days and nights, he penetrated within the veil, and
could say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth." Surely the latter
end of Job was more blessed than the beginning.--In the Hour of
"Trouble never comes to a man unless she brings a nugget of gold
in her hand."
Apparent adversity will finally turn out to be the advantage of
the right if we are only willing to keep on working and to wait
patiently. How steadfastly the great victor souls have kept at
their work, dauntless and unafraid! There are blessings which we
cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There
are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are
revealings of Divine truth which we can get only when earth's
lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only
after the plowshare has done its work.--Selected
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most
massive characters are seamed with scars; martyrs have put on
their coronation robes glittering with fire, and through their
tears have the sorrowful first seen the gates of Heaven.
I shall know by the gleam and glitter
Of the golden chain you wear,
By your heart's calm strength in loving,
Of the fire you have had to bear.
Beat on, true heart, forever;
Shine bright, strong golden chain;
And bless the cleansing fire
And the furnace of living pain!
Providence of Loss
"It came to pass . . . that the brook dried up" (1 Kings 17:7).
The education of our faith is incomplete if we have not learned
that there is a providence of loss, a ministry of failing and of
fading things, a gift of emptiness. The material insecurities of
life make for its spiritual establishment. The dwindling stream
by which Elijah sat and mused is a true picture of the life of
each of us. "It came to pass . . . that the brook dried
up"--that is the history of our yesterday, and a prophecy of our
In some way or other we will have to learn the difference
between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift
may be good for a while, but the Giver is the Eternal Love.
Cherith was a difficult problem to Elijah until he got to
Zarephath, and then it was all as clear as daylight. God's hard
words are never His last words. The woe and the waste and the
tears of life belong to the interlude and not to the finale.
Had Elijah been led straight to Zarephath he would have missed
something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better
man. He lived by faith at Cherith. And whensoever in your life
and mine some spring of earthly and outward resource has dried
up, it has been that we might learn that our hope and help are
in God who made Heaven and earth. --F. B. Meyer
Perchance thou, too, hast camped by such sweet waters,
And quenched with joy thy weary, parched soul's thirst;
To find, as time goes on, thy streamlet alters
From what it was at first.
Hearts that have cheered, or soothed, or blest, or strengthened;
Loves that have lavished so unstintedly;
Joys, treasured joys--have passed, as time hath lengthened,
If thus, ah soul, the brook thy heart hath cherished
Doth fail thee now--no more thy thirst assuage--
If its once glad refreshing streams have perished,
Let HIM thy heart engage.
He will not fail, nor mock, nor disappoint thee;
His consolations change not with the years;
With oil of joy He surely will anoint thee,
And wipe away thy tears.
--J. D. Smith
Bearing the Sting
"He opened not his mouth" (Isa. 53:7).
How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly,
and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing
tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing
said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are
electro-plate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings
that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when
Shimei cursed him, "Let him curse; . . . it may be . . . that
the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."
Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their
life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until
their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare.
It is like a nest of hornets. You may disperse the hornets, but
you will probably get terribly stung, and get nothing for your
pains, for even their honey is not worth a search.
God give us more of His Spirit, "who, when he was reviled,
reviled not again"; but "committed himself to him that judgeth
righteously." "Consider him that endureth such contradiction of
sinners against himself."--A. B. Simpson
"Before you" He trod all the path of woe,
He took the sharp thrusts with His head bent low.
He knew deepest sorrow and pain and grief,
He knew long endurance without relief,
He took all the bitter from death's deep cup,
He kept not a blood-drop but gave all up.
"Before you" and for you, He won the fight
To bring you to glory and realms of light.
"Who is among you that feareth Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice
of his servant? He that walketh in darkness and hath no light,
let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely upon his God"
(Isa. 50:10, RV).
What shall the believer do in times of darkness--the darkness of
perplexity and confusion, not of heart but of mind? Times of
darkness come to the faithful and believing disciple who is
walking obediently in the will of God; seasons when he does not
know what to do, nor which way to turn. The sky is overcast with
clouds. The clear light of Heaven does not shine upon his
pathway. One feels as if he were groping his way in darkness.
Beloved, is this you? What shall the believer do in times of
darkness? Listen! "Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and
rely upon his God."
The first thing to do is do nothing. This is hard for poor human
nature to do. In the West there is a saying that runs thus,
"When you're rattled, don't rush"; in other words, "When you
don't know what to do, don't do it."
When you run into a spiritual fog bank, don't tear ahead; slow
down the machinery of your life. If necessary, anchor your bark
or let it swing at its moorings. We are to simply trust God.
While we trust, God can work. Worry prevents Him from doing
anything for us. If our minds are distracted and our hearts
distressed; if the darkness that overshadows us strikes terror
to us; if we run hither and yon in a vain effort to find some
way of escape out of a dark place of trial, where Divine
providence has put us, the Lord can do nothing for us.
The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts. We
must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and
let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love.
He knows the way out of the woods. Let us climb up into His
arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest
Remember we are never without a pilot when we know not how to
"Hold on, my heart, in thy believing--
The steadfast only wins the crown;
He who, when stormy winds are heaving,
Parts with its anchor, shall go down;
But he who Jesus holds through all,
Shall stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.
"Hold out! There comes an end to sorrow;
Hope from the dust shall conquering rise;
The storm foretells a summer's morrow;
The Cross points on to Paradise;
The Father reigneth! cease all doubt;
Hold on, my heart, hold on, hold out."
"Do not begin to be anxious" (Phil. 4:6, PBV).
Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and
others fret and fume terribly. To be perfectly at peace amid the
hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the
use of worrying? It never made anybody strong; never helped
anybody to do God's will; never made a way of escape for anyone
out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be
useful and beautiful. Restlessness, anxiety, and care are
absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: "Take no thought,"
that is, no anxious thought, "saying what shall we eat, or what
shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?" He does not
mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to
be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about
these things. People know you live in the realm of anxious care
by the lines on your face, the tones of your voice, the minor
key in your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit. Scale the
heights of a life abandoned to God, then you will look down on
the clouds beneath your feet. --Rev. Darlow Sargeant
It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning
and mistrusting. Can we gain anything by it? Do we not unfit
ourselves for action, and unhinge our minds for wise decision?
We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith.
Oh, for grace to be quiet! Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah
is God! The Holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own.
We may be sure that every word of His will stand, though the
mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in. Come, my
soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of
the Lord Jesus. --Selected
"Peace thy inmost soul shall fill
The Summer Will Come
"Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you"
Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose
the fogs and mists of Ireland make it "the Emerald Isle"; and
whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow,
you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful
verdure of the comfort and love of God. O Christian, do not thou
be saying, "Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are
dead." They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and
gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by.
Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter
has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath
coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their
heads again, and will be alive very soon. Say not, child of God,
that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah,
no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he
cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in
April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers. And
oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath
forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee
love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the
Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises
our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope;
for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late. --C.
"Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders' veins turn crimson--
And the birds go north again.
"Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"'Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over--
Why, the birds go north again."
Sin of Worry
"Fret not" (Ps. 37:1).
This to me is a Divine command; the same as "Thou shalt not
steal." Now let us get to the definition of fretting. One good
definition is, "Made rough on the surface." "Rubbed, or worn
away"; and a peevish, irrational, fault-finding person not only
wears himself out, but is very wearing to others. To fret is to
be in a state of vexation, and in this Psalm we are not only
told not to fret because of evildoers, but to fret not "in
anywise." It is injurious, and God does not want us to hurt
A physician will tell you that a fit of anger is more injurious
to the system than a fever, and a fretful disposition is not
conducive to a healthy body; and you know rules are apt to work
both ways, and the next step down from fretting is crossness,
and that amounts to anger. Let us settle this matter, and be
obedient to the command, "Fret not."--Margaret Bottome
OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD
Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
"I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so?"
Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
"Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."
By Death We Live
"As dying and behold we live" (2 Cor. 6:9).
I had a bed of asters last summer, that reached clear across my
garden in the country. Oh, how gaily they bloomed. They were
planted late. On the sides were yet fresh blossoming flowers,
while the tops had gone to seed. Early frosts came, and I found
one day that that long line of radiant beauty was seared, and I
said, "Ah! the season is too much for them; they have perished";
and I bade them farewell.
I disliked to go and look at the bed, it looked so like a
graveyard of flowers. But, four or five weeks ago one of my men
called my attention to the fact that along the whole line of
that bed there were asters coming up in the greatest abundance;
and I looked, and behold, for every plant that I thought the
winter had destroyed there were fifty plants that it had
planted. What did those frosts and surly winds do?
They caught my flowers, they slew them, they cast them to the
ground, they trod with snowy feet upon them, and they said,
leaving their work, "This is the end of you." And the next
spring there were for every root, fifty witnesses to rise up and
say, "By death we live."
And as it is in the floral tribe, so it is in God's kingdom. By
death came everlasting life. By crucifixion and the sepulchre
came the throne and the palace of the Eternal God. By overthrow
Do not be afraid to suffer. Do not be afraid to be overthrown.
It is by being cast down and not destroyed; it is by being
shaken to pieces, and the pieces torn to shreds, that men become
men of might, and that one a host; whereas men that yield to the
appearance of things, and go with the world, have their quick
blossoming, their momentary prosperity and then their end, which
is an end forever.--Beecher
"Measure thy life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give."
Joy in Prison
"And Joseph's master took him, and put him into a prison . . .
But Jehovah was with Joseph . . . and that which he did, Jehovah
made it to prosper" (Gen. 39:20-23).
When God lets us go to prison because we have been serving Him,
and goes there with us, prison is about the most blessed place
in the world that we could be in. Joseph seems to have known
that. He did not sulk and grow discouraged and rebellious
because "everything was against him." If he had, the
prison-keeper would never have trusted him so. Joseph does not
even seem to have pitied himself.
Let us remember that if self-pity is allowed to set in, that is
the end of us--until it is cast utterly from us. Joseph just
turned over everything in joyous trust to God, and so the keeper
of the prison turned over everything to Joseph. Lord Jesus, when
the prison doors close in on me, keep me trusting, and keep my
joy full and abounding. Prosper Thy work through me in prison:
even there, make me free indeed.--Selected
A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.
My cage confines me round,
Abroad I cannot fly,
But though my wing is closely bound,
My soul is at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
I have learnt to love the darkness of sorrow; there you see the
brightness of His face.--Madame Guyon
"In nothing be anxious" (Phil. 4:6).
No anxiety ought to be found in a believer. Great, many and
varied may be our trials, our afflictions, our difficulties, and
yet there should be no anxiety under any circumstances, because
we have a Father in Heaven who is almighty, who loves His
children as He loves His only-begotten Son, and whose very joy
and delight it is to succor and help them at all times and under
all circumstances. We should attend to the Word, "In nothing be
anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
"In everything," that is not merely when the house is on fire,
not merely when the beloved wife and children are on the brink
of the grave, but in the smallest matters of life, bring
everything before God, the little things, the very little
things, what the world calls trifling things--everything--living
in holy communion with our Heavenly Father, arid with our
precious Lord Jesus all day long. And when we awake at night, by
a kind of spiritual instinct again turning to Him, and speaking
to Him, bringing our various little matters before Him in the
sleepless night, the difficulties in connection with the family,
our trade, our profession. Whatever tries us in any way, speak
to the Lord about it.
"By prayer and supplication," taking the place of beggars, with
earnestness, with perseverance, going on and waiting, waiting,
waiting on God.
"With thanksgiving." We should at all times lay a good
foundation with thanksgiving. If everything else were wanting,
this is always present, that He has saved us from hell. Then,
that He has given us His Holy Word--His Son, His choicest
gift--and the Holy Spirit. Therefore we have abundant reason for
thanksgiving. O let us aim at this!
"And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall
keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." And this is so
great a blessing, so real a blessing, so precious a blessing,
that it must be known experimentally to be entered into, for it
passeth understanding. O let us lay these things to heart, and
the result will be, if we habitually walk in this spirit, we
shall far more abundantly glorify God, than as yet we have done.
--George Mueller, in Life of Trust
Twice or thrice a day, look to see if your heart is not
disquieted about something; and if you find that it is, take
care forthwith to restore it to calm.--Francis De Sales
"The angel of the Lord came upon him Peter. and a light shined
in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him
up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off" (Acts
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto
God. . . . And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that
the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all
the doors were opened and every one's bands were loosed" (Acts
This is God's way. In the darkest hours of the night, His tread
draws near across the billows. As the day of execution is
breaking, the angel comes to Peter's cell. When the scaffold for
Mordecai is complete, the royal sleeplessness leads to a
reaction in favor of the favored race.
Ah, soul, it may have to come to the worst with thee ere thou
art delivered; but thou wilt be delivered! God may keep thee
waiting, but he will ever be mindful of His covenant, and will
appear to fulfill His inviolable Word. --F. B. Meyer
There's a simplicity about God in working out His plans, yet a
resourcefulness equal to any difficulty, and an unswerving
faithfulness to His trusting child, and an unforgetting
steadiness in holding to His purpose. Through a fellow-prisoner,
then a dream, He lifts Joseph from a prison to a premiership.
And the length of stay in the prison prevents dizziness in the
premier. It's safe to trust God's methods and to go by His
clock. --S. D. Gordon
Providence hath a thousand keys to open a thousand sundry doors
for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a
desperate case. Let us be faithful; and care for our own part
which is to suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself,
and leave it there.--George MacDonald
Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle--it is miracle in
its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition
is not difficulty but impossibility.
The clinging hand of His child makes a desperate situation a
delight to Him.
"By reason of breakings they purify themselves" (Job 41:25).
God uses most for His glory those people and things which are
most perfectly broken. The sacrifices He accepts are broken and
contrite hearts. It was the breaking down of Jacob's natural
strength at Peniel that got him where God could clothe him with
spiritual power. It was breaking the surface of the rock at
Horeb, by the stroke of Moses' rod that let out the cool waters
to thirsty people.
It was when the 300 elect soldiers under Gideon broke their
pitchers, a type of breaking themselves, that the hidden lights
shone forth to the consternation of their adversaries. It was
when the poor widow broke the seal of the little pot of oil, and
poured it forth, that God multiplied it to pay her debts and
supply means of support.
It was when Esther risked her life and broke through the rigid
etiquette of a heathen court, that she obtained favor to rescue
her people from death. It was when Jesus took the five loaves
and broke them, that the bread was multiplied in the very act of
breaking, sufficient to feed five thousand. It was when Mary
broke her beautiful alabaster box, rendering it henceforth
useless, that the pent-up perfume filled the house. It was when
Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken to pieces by thorns
and nails and spear, that His inner life was poured out, like a
crystal ocean, for thirsty sinners to drink and live.
It is when a beautiful grain of corn is broken up in the earth
by DEATH, that its inner heart sprouts forth and bears hundreds
of other grains. And thus, on and on, through all history, and
all biography, and all vegetation, and all spiritual life, God
must have BROKEN THINGS.
Those who are broken in wealth, and broken in self-will, and
broken in their ambitions, and broken in their beautiful ideals,
and broken in worldly reputation, and broken in their
affections, and broken ofttimes in health; those who are
despised and seem utterly forlorn and helpless, the Holy Ghost
is seizing upon, and using for God's glory. "The lame take the
prey," Isaiah tells us.
O break my heart; but break it as a field
Is by the plough up-broken for the corn;
O break it as the buds, by green leaf seated,
Are, to unloose the golden blossom, torn;
Love would I offer unto Love's great Master,
Set free the odor, break the alabaster.
O break my heart; break it victorious God,
That life's eternal well may flash abroad;
O let it break as when the captive trees,
Breaking cold bonds, regain their liberties;
And as thought's sacred grove to life is springing,
Be joys, like birds, their hope, Thy victory singing. --Thomas
"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily
beset us, and, let us run with patience the race that is set
before us" (Heb. 12:1).
There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which
become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian
progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy
heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our
holiness and usefulness.
The failure of Israel to enter the land of promise began in
murmuring, or, as the text in Numbers literally puts it, "as it
were murmured." Just a faint desire to complain and be
discontented. This led on until it blossomed and ripened into
rebellion and ruin. Let us give ourselves no liberty ever to
doubt God or His love and faithfulness to us in everything and
We can set our will against doubt just as we do against any
other sin; and as we stand firm and refuse to doubt, the Holy
Spirit will come to our aid and give us the faith of God and
crown us with victory.
It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, fretting,
and wondering if God has forsaken us and if after all our hopes
are to end in failure. Let us refuse to be discouraged. Let us
refuse to be unhappy. Let us "count it all joy" when we cannot
feel one emotion of happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by
resolution, by reckoning, and we shall surely find that God will
make the reckoning real.--Selected
The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged;
then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and
so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking
the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Lookout! Do
not be tricked either way.--G.E.M.
Gladness! I like to cultivate the spirit of gladness! It puts
the soul so in tune again, and keeps it in tune, so that Satan
is shy of touching it--the chords of the soul become too warm,
or too full of heavenly electricity, for his infernal fingers,
and he goes off somewhere else! Satan is always very shy of
meddling with me when my heart is full of gladness and joy in
the Holy Ghost.
My plan is to shun the spirit of sadness as I would Satan; but,
alas! I am not always successful. Like the devil himself it
meets me on the highway of usefulness, looks me so fully in my
face, till my poor soul changes color!
Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless;
it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul
of all its aspirations, enchains all its powers, and produces a
An old believer remarked, that cheerfulness in religion makes
all its services come off with delight; and that we are never
carried forward so swiftly in the ways of duty as when borne on
the wings of delight; adding, that Melancholy clips such wings;
or, to alter the figure, takes off our chariot wheels in duty,
and makes them, like those of the Egyptians, drag heavily.
He Refines Them
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto
the world" (Gal. 6:14).
They were living to themselves; self with its hopes, and
promises and dreams, still had hold of them; but the Lord began
to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and had
surrendered for it to be given them at any cost, and He sent
them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them
thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken
their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He
slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto
Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by "as a refiner
and purifier of silver," until they should reflect His image;
they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached
it to them it lacerated their hands.
They had asked they knew not what, nor how, but He had taken
them at their word, and granted them all their petitions. They
were hardly willing to follow Him so far, or to draw so nigh to
Him. They had upon them an awe and fear, as Jacob at Bethel, or
Eliphaz in the night visions, or as the apostles when they
thought that they had seen a spirit, and knew not that it was
Jesus. They could almost pray Him to depart from them, or to
hide His awfulness. They found it easier to obey than to suffer,
to do than to give up, to bear the cross than to hang upon it.
But they cannot go back, for they have come too near the unseen
cross, and its virtues have pierced too deeply within them. He
is fulfilling to them His promise, "And I, if I be lifted up
from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32).
But now at last their turn has come. Before, they had only heard
of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them
His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they can but
choose to follow.
Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams, the
mystery of His cross shines out upon them. They behold Him
lifted up, they gaze on the glory which rays from the wounds of
His holy passion; and as they gaze they advance, and are changed
into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for He
dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable
fellowship; willing to lack what others own and what they might
have had., and to be unlike all, so that they are only like Him.
Such, are they in all ages, "who follow the Lamb whithersoever
Had they chosen for themselves, or their friends chosen for
them, they would have chosen otherwise. They would have been
brighter here, but less glorious in His Kingdom. They would have
had Lot's portion, not Abraham's. If they had halted
anywhere--if God had taken off His hand and let them stray
back--what would they not have lost? What forfeits in the
But He stayed them up, even against themselves. Many a time
their foot had well nigh slipped; but He in mercy held them up.
Now, even in this life, they know that all He did was done well.
It was good to suffer here, that they might reign hereafter; to
bear the cross below, for they shall wear the crown above; and
that not their will but His was done on them and in them.
"Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land
that is not theirs; . . . they shall afflict them four hundred
years; . . . and afterward they shall come out with great
substance" (Gen. 15:12-14).
An assured part of God's pledged blessing to us is delay and
suffering. A delay in Abram's own lifetime that seemed to put
God's pledge beyond fulfillment was followed by seemingly
unendurable delay of Abram's descendants. But it was only a
delay: they "came out with great substance." The pledge was
God is going to test me with delays; and with the delays will
come suffering, but through it all stands God's pledge: His new
covenant with me in Christ, and His inviolable promise of every
lesser blessing that I need. The delay and the suffering are
part of the promised blessing; let me praise Him for them today;
and let me wait on the Lord and be of good courage and He will
strengthen my heart. --C. G. Trumbull
Unanswered yet the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing?
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Nay do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your work is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, "It shall be done"--sometime, somewhere.
--Miss Ophelia G. Browning
"The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them" (Num.
God does give us impressions, but not that we should act on them
as impressions. If the impression be from God, He will Himself
give sufficient evidence to establish it beyond the possibility
of a doubt.
How beautiful is the story of Jeremiah, of the impression that
came to him respecting the purchase of the field of Anathoth.
But Jeremiah did not act upon this impression until after the
following day, when his uncle's son came to him and brought him
external evidence by making a proposal for the purchase. Then
Jeremiah said: "I knew this was the word of the Lord."
He waited until God seconded the impression by a providence, and
then he acted in full view of the open facts, which could bring
conviction unto others as well as to himself. God wants us to
act according to His mind. We are not to ignore the Shepherd's
personal voice but, like Paul and his companions at Troas, we
are to listen to all the voices that speak and "gather" from all
the circumstances, as they did, the full mind of the Lord. --Dr.
"Where God's finger points, there God's hand will make the way."
Do not say in thine heart what thou wilt or wilt not do, but
wait upon God until He makes known His way. So long as that way
is hidden it is clear that there is no need of action, and that
He accounts Himself responsible for all the results of keeping
thee where thou art. --Selected
"For God through ways we have not known,
Will lead His own."
Cushion of the Sea
"And the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of
thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7. Weymouth).
There is what is called the "cushion of the sea." Down beneath
the surface that is agitated by storms, and driven about with
winds, there is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When we
dredge the bottom and bring up the remains of animal and
vegetable life we find that they give evidence of not having
been disturbed in the least, for hundreds and thousands of
years. The peace of God is that eternal calm which, like the
cushion of the sea, lies far too deep down to be reached by any
external trouble and disturbance; and he who enters into the
presence of God, becomes partaker of that undisturbed and
undisturbable calm.--Dr. A. T. Pierson
When winds are raging o'er the upper ocean,
And billows wild contend with angry roar,
'Tis said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigneth evermore.
Far, far beneath, the noise of tempest dieth,
And silver waves chime ever peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
So to the heart that knows Thy love, O Purest,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all the babble of life's angry voices
Dies in hushed silence at its peaceful door.
Far, far away, the roar of passion dieth,
And loving thoughts rise calm and peacefully,
And no rude storm, how fierce soe'er it flieth,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.
--Harriet Beecher Stowe
"The Pilgrim they laid in a large upper chamber, facing the
sun-rising. The name of the chamber was Peace." --Bunyan's
Ready to Move
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were
dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with
hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor.5:1).
The owner of the tenement which I have occupied for many years
has given notice that he will furnish but little or nothing more
for repairs. I am advised to be ready to move.
At first this was not a very welcome notice. The surroundings
here are in many respects very pleasant, and were it not for the
evidence of decay, I should consider the house good enough. But
even a light wind causes it to tremble and totter, and all the
braces are not sufficient to make it secure. So I am getting
ready to move.
It is strange how quickly one's interest is transferred to the
prospective home. I have been consulting maps of the new country
and reading descriptions of its inhabitants. One who visited it
has returned, and from him I learn that it is beautiful beyond
description; language breaks down in attempting to tell of what
he heard while there. He says that, in order to make an
investment there, he has suffered the loss of all things that he
owned here, and even rejoices in what others would call making a
sacrifice. Another, whose love to me has been proven by the
greatest possible test, is now there. He has sent me several
clusters of the most delicious fruits. After tasting them, all
food here seems insipid.
Two or three times I have been down by the border of the river
that forms the boundary, and have wished myself among the
company of those who were singing praises to the King on the
other side. Many of my friends have moved there. Before leaving
they spoke of my coming later. I have seen the smile upon their
faces as they passed out of sight. Often I am asked to make some
new investments here, but my answer in every case is, "I am
getting ready to move." --Selected
The words often on Jesus' lips in His last days express vividly
the idea, "going to the Father." We, too, who are Christ's
people, have vision of something beyond the difficulties and
disappointments of this life. We are journeying towards
fulfillment, completion, expansion of life. We, too, are "going
to the Father." Much is dim concerning our home-country, but two
things are clear. It is home, "the Father's House." It is the
nearer presence of the Lord. We are all wayfarers, but the
believer knows it and accepts it. He is a traveller, not a
settler. --R. C. Gillie
The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.
Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing:
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
'Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.
Not of the Extraordinary
"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the
priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside, of the
desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the
angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of
the midst of a bush" (Exod. 3:1,2).
The vision came in the midst of common toil, and that is where
the Lord delights to give His revelations. He seeks a man who is
on the ordinary road, and the Divine fire leaps out at his feet.
The mystic ladder can rise from the market place to Heaven. It
can connect the realm of drudgery with the realms of grace.
My Father God, help me to expect Thee on the ordinary road. I do
not ask for sensational happenings. Commune with me through
ordinary work and duty. Be my Companion when I take the common
journey. Let the humble life be transfigured by Thy presence.
Some Christians think they must be always up to mounts of
extraordinary joy and revelation; this is not after God's
method. Those spiritual visits to high places, and that
wonderful intercourse with the unseen world, are not in the
promises; the daily life of communion is. And it is enough. We
shall have the exceptional revelation if it be right for us.
There were but three disciples allowed to see the
transfiguration, and those three entered the gloom of
Gethsemane. No one can stay on the mount of privilege. There are
duties in the valley. Christ found His life-work, not in the
glory, but in the valley and was there truly and fully the
Messiah. The value of the vision and glory is but their gift of
fitness for work and endurance.
When God Says No
"There hath not failed one word of all his good promise" (1
Some day we shall understand that God has a reason in every NO
which He speaks through the slow movement of life. "Somehow God
makes up to us." How often, when His people are worrying and
perplexing themselves about their prayers not being answered, is
God answering them in a far richer way! Glimpses of this we see
occasionally, but the full revelation of it remains for the
"If God says 'Yes' to our prayer, dear heart,
And the sunlight is golden, the sky is blue,
While the smooth road beckons to me and you,
And the song-birds warble as on we go,
Pausing to gather the buds at our feet,
Stopping to drink of the streamlets we meet,
Happy, more happy, our journey will grow,
If God says 'Yes' to our prayer, dear heart.
"If God says 'No' to our prayer, dear heart,
And the clouds hang heavy and dull and gray;
If the rough rocks hinder and block the way,
While the sharp winds pierce us and sting with cold;
Ah, dear, there is home at the journey's end,
And these are the trials the Father doth send
To draw us as sheep to His Heavenly fold,
If God says 'No' to our prayer, dear heart."
Oh for the faith that does not make haste, but waits patiently
for the Lord, waits for the explanation that shall come in the
end, at the revelation of Jesus Christ! When did God take
anything from a man, without giving him manifold more in return?
Suppose that the return had not been made immediately manifest,
what then? Is today the limit of God's working time? Has He no
provinces beyond this little world? Does the door of the grave
open upon nothing but infinite darkness and eternal silence ?
Yet, even confining the judgment within the hour of this life,
it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without
intending to bring upon it some grander gift, some tenderer
benediction. He has attained to an eminent degree of Christian
grace who knows how to wait. --Selected
When the frosts are in the valley,
And the mountain tops are grey,
And the choicest buds are blighted,
And the blossoms die away,
A loving Father whispers,
"This cometh from my hand";
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.
If, after years of toiling,
Your wealth should fly away
And leave your hands all empty,
And your locks are turning grey,
Remember then your Father
Owns all the sea and land;
Blessed are ye if ye trust
Where ye cannot understand.
A Bar of Steel
"I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument" (Isa.
A bar of steel worth five dollars, when wrought into horseshoes,
is worth ten dollars. If made into needles, it is worth three
hundred and fifty dollars; if into penknife blades, it is worth
thirty-two thousand dollars; if into springs for watches it is
worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What a drilling
the poor bar must undergo to be worth this! But the more it is
manipulated, the more it is hammered and passed through the
fire, and beaten and pounded and polished, the greater the
May this parable help us to be silent, still, and longsuffering.
Those who suffer most are capable of yielding most; and it is
through pain that God is getting the most out of us, for His
glory and the blessing of others. --Selected
"Oh, give Thy servant patience to be still,
And bear Thy will;
Courage to venture wholly on the arm
That will not harm;
The wisdom that will never let me stray
Out of my way;
The love that, now afflicting, knoweth best
When I should rest."
Life is very mysterious. Indeed it would be inexplicable unless
we believed that God was preparing us for scenes and ministries
that lie beyond the veil of sense in the eternal world, where
highly-tempered spirits will be required for special service.
"The turning-lathe that has the sharpest knives produces the
In His Name
"Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask and ye shall
receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24).
During the Civil War, a man had an only son who enlisted in the
armies of the Union. The father was a banker and, although he
consented to his son's going, it seemed as if it would break his
heart to let him go.
He became deeply interested in the soldier boys, and whenever he
saw a uniform, his heart went out as he thought of his own dear
boy. He spent his time, neglected his business, gave his money
to caring for the soldiers who came home invalid. His friends
remonstrated with him, saying he had no right to neglect his
business and spend so much thought upon the soldiers, so he
fully decided to give it all up.
After he had come to this decision, there stepped into his bank
one day a private soldier in a faded, worn uniform, who showed
in his face and hands the marks of the hospital.
The poor fellow was fumbling in his pocket to get something or
other, when the banker saw him and, perceiving his purpose, said
"My dear fellow, I cannot do anything for you today. I am
extremely busy. You will have to go to your headquarters; the
officers there will look after you."
Still the poor convalescent stood, not seeming to fully
understand what was said to him. Still he fumbled in his pockets
and, by and by, drew out a scrap of dirty paper, on which there
were a few lines written with a pencil, and laid this soiled
sheet before the banker. On it he found these words:
"Dear Father: "This is one of my comrades who was wounded in the
last fight, and has been in the hospital. Please receive him as
In a moment all the resolutions of indifference which this man
made, flew away. He took the boy to his palatial home, put him
in Charlie's room, gave him Charlie's seat at the table, kept
him until food and rest and love had brought him back to health,
and then sent him back again to imperil his life for the flag.
An Hour In The Garden
"He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when evening was
come, he was there alone" (Matt. 14:23).
The man Christ Jesus felt the need of perfect solitude--Himself
alone, entirely by Himself, alone with Himself. We know how much
intercourse with men draws us away from ourselves and exhausts
our powers. The man Christ Jesus knew this, too, and felt the
need of being by Himself again, of gathering all His powers, of
realizing fully His high destiny, His human weakness, His entire
dependence on the Father.
How much more does the child of God need this--himself alone
with spiritual realities, himself alone with God the Father. If
ever there were one who could dispense with special seasons for
solitude and fellowship, it was our Lord. But He could not do
His work or maintain His fellowship in full power, without His
Would God that every servant of His understood and practiced
this blessed art, and that the Church knew how to train its
children into some sense of this high and holy privilege, that
every believer may and must have his time when he is indeed
himself alone with God. Oh, the thought to have God all alone to
myself, and to know that God has me all alone to Himself!
Lamertine speaks in one of his books of a secluded walk in his
garden where his mother always spent a certain hour of the day,
upon which nobody ever dreamed for a moment of intruding. It was
the holy garden of the Lord to her. Poor souls that have no such
Beulah land! Seek thy private chamber, Jesus says. It is in the
solitude that we catch the mystic notes that issue from the soul
My soul, practice being alone with Christ! It is written that
when they were alone He expounded all things to His disciples.
Do not wonder at the saying; it is true to thine experience. If
thou wouldst understand thyself send the multitude away. Let
them go out one by one till thou art left alone with Jesus. . .
. Has thou ever pictured thyself the one remaining creature in
the earth, the one remaining creature in all the starry worlds?
In such a universe thine every thought would be "God and I! God
and I!" And yet He is as near to thee as that--as near as if in
the boundless spaces there throbbed no heart but His and thine.
Practice that solitude, O my soul! Practice the expulsion of the
crowd! Practice the stillness of thine own heart! Practice the
solemn refrain "God and I! God and I!" Let none interpose
between thee and thy wrestling angel! Thou shalt be both
condemned and pardoned when thou shalt meet Jesus alone!
"All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps. 42:7).
They are HIS billows, whether they go o'er us,
Hiding His face in smothering spray and foam;
Or smooth and sparkling, spread a path before us,
And to our haven bear us safely home.
They are HIS billows, whether for our succor
He walks across them, stilling all our fear;
Or to our cry there comes no aid nor answer,
And in the lonely silence none is near.
They are HIS billows, whether we are toiling
Through tempest-driven waves that never cease,
While deep to deep with clamor loud is calling;
Or at His word they hush themselves in peace.
They are HIS billows, whether He divides them,
Making us walk dryshod where seas had flowed;
Or lets tumultuous breakers surge about us,
Rushing unchecked across our only road.
They are HIS billows, and He brings us through them;
So He has promised, so His love will do.
Keeping and leading, guiding and upholding,
To His sure harbor, He will bring us through.
--Annie Johnson Flint
Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there
do your best. God gives us trial tests. He puts life before us
as an antagonist face to face. Out of the buffeting of a serious
conflict we are expected to grow strong. The tree that grows
where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk often almost
to breaking, is often more firmly rooted than the tree which
grows in the sequestered valley where no storm ever brings
stress or strain. The same is true of life. The grandest
character is grown in hardship. --Selected
In The Heavenly Places
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he
loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us
together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and
made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph.
This is our rightful place, to be "seated in heavenly places in
Christ Jesus," and to "sit still" there. But how few there are
who make it their actual experience! How few, indeed think even
that it is possible for them to "sit still" in these "heavenly
places" in the everyday life of a world so full of turmoil as
We may believe perhaps that to pay a little visit to these
heavenly places on Sundays, or now and then in times of
spiritual exaltation, may be within the range of possibility;
but to be actually "seated" there every day and all day long is
altogether another matter; and yet it is very plain that it is
for Sundays and week-days as well.
A quiet spirit is of inestimable value in carrying on outward
activities; and nothing so hinders the working of the hidden
spiritual forces, upon which, after all, our success in
everything really depends, as a spirit of unrest and anxiety.
There is immense power in stillness. A great saint once said,
"All things come to him who knows how to trust and be silent."
The words are pregnant with meaning. A knowledge of this fact
would immensely change our ways of working. Instead of restless
struggles, we would "sit down" inwardly before the Lord, and
would let the Divine forces of His Spirit work out in silence
the ends to which we aspire. You may not see or feel the
operations of this silent force, but be assured it is always
working mightily, and will work for you, if you only get your
spirit still enough to be carried along by the currents of its
power. --Hannah Whitall Smith
"There is a point of rest
At the great center of the cyclone's force,
A silence at its secret source;
A little child might slumber undisturbed,
Without the ruffle of one fair curl,
In that strange, central calm, amid the mighty whirl."
It is your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God in
The Old Refiner
"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" (Mal. 3:3).
Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows
the value of the refiner's fire. It is with the most precious
metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them
to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the
molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form
in the mould. The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but
sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of
heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims from the surface
the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts
out the fire.
--Arthur T. Pierson
"He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would have said Him 'Nay,'
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire--not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o'er the fire, tho' unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment's pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure."
Run With Patience
"Let us run with patience" (Heb. 12:1).
O run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to
suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the
goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think
of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet, I
do not think the invalid's patience the hardest to achieve.
There is a patience which I believe to be harder--the patience
that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet
under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength;
but I know of something that implies a strength greater still:
It is the power to work under a stroke; to have a great weight
at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your
spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christlike
Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were
allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are
called to exercise our patience, not in bed, but in the street.
We are called to bury our sorrows, not in lethargic quiescence,
but in active service--in the exchange, in the workshop, in the
hour of social intercourse, in the contribution to another's
joy. There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is
the "running with patience."
This was Thy patience, O Son of man! It was at once a waiting
and a running--a waiting for the goal, and a doing of the lesser
work meantime. I see Thee at Cana turning the water into wine
lest the marriage feast should be clouded. I see Thee in the
desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a
temporary want. All, all the time, Thou wert bearing a mighty
grief, unshared, unspoken. Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud;
but I would ask more from Thee. I would be, in my cloud, myself
a rainbow--a minister to others' joy. My patience will be
perfect when it can work in the vineyard. --George Matheson
"When all our hopes are gone,
'Tis well our hands must keep toiling on
For others' sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache."
What Cannot Be Uttered
"Likewise also the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know
not what to pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And
he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the
Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according
to the will of God" (Rom. 8:26, 27).
This is the deep mystery of prayer. This is the delicate divine
mechanism which words cannot interpret, and which theology
cannot explain, but which the humblest believer knows even when
he does not understand.
Oh, the burdens that we love to bear and cannot understand! Oh,
the inarticulate out-reachings of our hearts for things we
cannot comprehend! And yet we know they are an echo from the
throne and a whisper from the heart of God. It is often a groan
rather than a song, a burden rather than a buoyant wing. But it
is a blessed burden, and it is a groan whose undertone is praise
and unutterable joy. It is "a groaning which cannot be uttered."
We could not ourselves express it always, and sometimes we do
not understand any more than that God is praying in us, for
something that needs His touch and that He understands.
And so we can just pour out the fullness of our heart, the
burden of our spirit, the sorrow that crushes us, and know that
He hears, He loves, He understands, He receives; and He
separates from our prayer all that is imperfect, ignorant and
wrong, and presents the rest, with the incense of the great High
Priest, before the throne on high; and our prayer is heard,
accepted and answered in His name. --A. B. Simpson
It is not necessary to be always speaking to God or always
hearing from God, to have communion with Him; there is an
inarticulate fellowship more sweet than words. The little child
can sit all day long beside its busy mother and, although few
words are spoken on either side, and both are busy, the one at
his absorbing play, the other at her engrossing work, yet both
are in perfect fellowship. He knows that she is there, and she
knows that he is all right. So the saint and the Saviour can go
on for hours in the silent fellowship of love, and he be busy
about the most common things, and yet conscious that every
little thing he does is touched with the complexion of His
presence, and the sense of His approval and blessing.
And then, when pressed with burdens and troubles too complicated
to put into words and too mysterious to tell or understand, how
sweet it is to fall back into His blessed arms, and just sob out
the sorrow that we cannot speak! --Selected