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Mornings and Evenings with Jesus
Devotional: August 1st
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flames kindle upon thee. - Isaiah 43:2.
LET us view the Christian as a sufferer, for so he is; and then he says, “I will go in the strength of the Lord God” to bear my trials. “Ah! trials must and will befall,” and we are commanded not to think of them as strange. “Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward;” and the Christian is born again to trouble. Bacon tells us that “prosperity is the promise of the Old Testament, and adversity the promise of the New.” And our Lord said to his disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” I am not, says the Christian, required to go out in search of trouble, but I am not to decline it when I find it in my way. I am then to take up my cross, and not to say when I come into distress, with a sullen countenance, “This is my grief, and I must bear it,” but this is my grief, and I will bear it, and, with my divine Lord, “The cup which my heavenly Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” “Not my will, but thine, be done.” “I must in patience possess my soul; I may mourn, but I must not murmur; I may say, I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”
Thus we may “glorify God in the fires;” thus we may display the excellency of the religion we profess, and it is thus we may he an example to all around. But how can we accomplish this? If we sink in the day of adversity, our strength is small,-and sink we must, unless we have other strength than our own. But who is this that says, “I will he with thee in trouble;” “when thou passest through the waters, I will he with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flames kindle upon thee.” “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as thy day, so shall thy strength be.”
Sometimes a Christian may be dismayed in the prospect and in the approach of trouble coming upon him; yet notwithstanding his fears and forebodings, when the trial comes, there comes along with it grace to help in time of need! Then he wonders at his previous apprehensions; and now, when he looks back to the enduring of it, he feels that he would be willing to go through the same exercises again, were he sure of the same succour and consolations.
The people of the world wonder how it is that Christians bear their trials as they do. The world can see their troubles well enough, but they cannot see their inward supports; they can see how one affliction peels them, and another strips them, and another pains and oppresses them, and wonder that they do not sink under their distresses; but they cannot see the everlasting arms underneath them, and how that the eternal God is their refuge. They can see their distresses, but they witness not their nearness to God in prayer, and how they can say, with David, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he maketh it not to grow.”
They which run in a race rim all, but one receiveth the prize. - 1 Corinthians 9:24.
EARTHLY good is always uncertain. Here we must always reckon upon disappointment: all cannot win; and where one succeeds there are numbers who grieve over mortifying disappointments, and after a long and painful pursuit in the competition of it, we too, perhaps, may find that just as we are about to grasp the prize, another bears it away. The truth is, that worldly distinction and eminence depend on a concurrence of events and circumstances such as rarely take place. “I saw,” says Solomon, “that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill, but” what we call” time and chance happeneth to them all.” The truth is, that a great deal of what is called earthly greatness is placed beyond the reach of many, whatever they may do. Many are poor, and they have not the opportunities and the means of becoming affluent; many cannot fill the seats of learning and science: they have not capacities to acquire the needful treasures.
Here is a reason why we should seek those which are always sure in their attainment. Over these is inscribed always, “Ask and it shall be given; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you; for whosoever asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” No condition in life, however disadvantageous it seems, is a barrier to elevation here. In the work of the Lord the servant may become equally great with the master; for moral greatness does not consist in doing great things, but in doing little things with a great mind. And these are accessible to all. “The poor have the gospel preached unto them,” and may be “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him.” All may obtain, however destitute, those blessings which are to be bought “without money and without price.” “The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err” in the heavenly road, under the Divine guide.
A man, however illiterate, can acquire the knowledge which makes wise unto salvation, under the heavenly Teacher; for the Teacher here affords not only light but eyes, not only sound but ears, not only lessons but the faculty to receive them. Hope is the mainspring of action; if probability will invigorate a man in his exertions, how much more will certainty, especially when the objects depending are of such unspeakable value.
We see, then, the advantage which the Christian has over all other candidates. The husbandman soweth in hope, but his hopes may perish by excessive moisture, or by mildew, or caterpillars; but here “he that soweth in tears, shall reap in joy.” The soldier fights in hope, but war is a precarious thing. “Let not him that putteth on the harness,” says the proverb, “boast as he that putteth it off.” Conquerors have been often conquered; but Christians will be found “more than conquerors.” They enter upon their warfare under peculiar advantages. If they have not struck a blow, they may strike with confidence; or if they have fallen through a blow received, they may look up and say, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” So that we may say-
“Assured that our King
Will put our foes to flight,
We’ll on the field of battle sing,
And triumph in the fight.”
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18
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