It was good for me to be afflicted. (Psalm 119:71)
It is a remarkable occurrence of nature that the most brilliant colors of plants are found on the highest mountains, in places that are the most exposed to the fiercest weather. The brightest lichens and mosses, as well as the most beautiful wildflowers, abound high upon the windswept, storm-ravaged peaks.
One of the finest arrays of living color I have ever seen was just above the great Saint Bernard Hospice near the ten-thousand-foot summit of Mont Cenis in the French Alps. The entire face of one expansive rock was covered with a strikingly vivid yellow lichen, which shone in the sunshine like a golden wall protecting an enchanted castle. Amid the loneliness and barrenness of that high altitude and exposed to the fiercest winds of the sky, this lichen exhibited glorious color it has never displayed in the shelter of the valley.
As I write these words, I have two specimens of the same type of lichen before me. One is from this Saint Bernard area, and the other is from the wall of a Scottish castle, which is surrounded by sycamore trees. The difference in their form and coloring is quite striking. The one grown amid the fierce storms of the mountain peak has a lovely yellow color of a primrose, a smooth texture, and a definite form and shape. But the one cultivated amid the warm air and the soft showers of the lowland valley has a dull, rusty color, a rough texture, and an indistinct and broken shape.
Isn’t it the same with a Christian who is afflicted, storm- tossed, and without comfort? Until the storms and difficulties allowed by God’s providence beat upon a believer again and again, his character appears flawed and blurred. Yet the trials actually clear away the clouds and shadows, perfect the form of his character, and bestow 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 You, most for the severe.
He took them with him and they withdrew by themselves. (Luke 9:10)
In order to grow in grace, we must spend a great deal of time in quiet solitude. Contact with others in society is not what causes the soul to grow most vigorously. In fact, one quiet hour of prayer will often yield greater results than many days spent in the company of others. It is in the desert that the dew is freshest and the air is the most pure. Andrew Bonar
Come with me by yourselves and rest awhile,
I know you’re weary of the stress and throng,
Wipe from your brow the sweat and dust of toil,
And in My quiet strength again be strong.
Come now aside from all the world holds dear,
For fellowship 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 you have said and done,
Your victories and failures, hopes and fears.
I know how hardened hearts are wooed and won;
My choicest wreaths are always wet with tears.
Come now and rest; the journey is too great,
And you 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 from fellowship with your Lord return,
And work till daylight softens into even:
Those brief hours are not lost in which you learn
More of your Master and His rest in Heaven.
After the earthquake came a fire. . . . And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:12)
A woman who had made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord was once asked the secret of her seemingly easy growth. Her brief response was, “Mind the checks.”
The reason many of us do not know and understand God better is that we do not heed His gentle “checks”—His delicate restraints and constraints. His voice is “a gentle whisper." A whisper can hardly be heard, so it must be felt as a faint and steady pressure upon the heart and mind, like the touch of a morning breeze calmly moving across the soul. And when it is heeded, it quietly grows clearer in the inner ear of the heart.
God’s voice is directed to the ear of love, and true love is intent upon hearing even the faintest whisper. Yet there comes a time when His love ceases to speak, when we do not respond to or believe His message. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and if you want to know Him and His voice, you must continually listen to His gentle touches.
So when you are about to say something in conversation with others, and you sense a gentle restraint from His quiet whisper, heed the restraint and refrain from speaking. And when you are about to pursue some course of action that seems perfectly clear and right, yet you sense in your spirit another path being suggested with the force of quiet conviction, heed that conviction. Follow the alternate course, even if the change of plans appears to be absolute folly from the perspective of human wisdom.
Also learn to wait on God until He unfolds His will before you. Allow Him to develop all the plans of your heart and mind, and then let Him accomplish them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own, for often His performance will appear to contradict the plan He gave you. God will seem to work against Himself, so simply listen, obey, and trust Him, even when it appears to be the greatest absurdity to do so. Ultimately, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28), but many times, in the initial stages of the performance of His plans:
In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.
Therefore if you desire to know God’s voice, never consider the final outcome or the possible results. Obey Him even when He asks you to move while you still see only darkness, for He Himself will be a glorious light within you. Then there will quickly spring up within your heart a knowledge of God and a fellowship with Him, which will be overpowering enough in themselves to hold you and Him together, even in the most severe tests and under the strongest pressures of life. from Way of Faith
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. (Job 42:12)
Job found his legacy through the grief he experienced. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed and validated. In the same way, my troubles are intended to deepen my character and to clothe me in gifts I had little of prior to my difficulties, for my ripest fruit grows against the roughest wall. I come to a place of glory only through my own humility, tears, and death, just as Job’s afflictions left him with a higher view of God and more humble thoughts of himself. At last he cried, “Now my eyes have seen you” (v. 5).
If I experience the presence of God in His majesty through my pain and loss, so that I bow before Him and pray, “Your will be done” (Matt. 6:10), then I have gained much indeed. God gave Job glimpses of his future glory, for in those weary and difficult days and nights, he was allowed to penetrate God’s veil and could honestly say, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25). So truly: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first." from In the Hour of Silence
Trouble never comes to someone unless it brings a nugget of gold in its hand.
Apparent adversity will ultimately become an advantage for those of us doing what is right, if we are willing to keep serving and to wait patiently. Think of the great victorious souls of the past who worked with steadfast faith and who were invincible and courageous! There are many blessings we will never obtain if we are unwilling to accept and endure suffering. There are certain joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revelations of God’s divine truth that we will receive only when the lights of earth have been extinguished. And there are harvests that will grow only once the plow has done its work. selected
It is from suffering that the strongest souls ever known have emerged; the world’s greatest display of character is seen in those who exhibit the scars of sorrow; the martyrs of the ages have worn their coronation robes that have glistened with fire, yet through their tears and sorrow have seen the gates of heaven. Chapin
I will 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!
Some time later the brook dried up. (1 Kings 17:7)
The education of our faith is incomplete if we have yet to learn that God’s providence works through loss, that there is a ministry to us through failure and the fading of things, and that He gives the gift of emptiness. It is, in fact, the material insecurities of life that cause our lives to be spiritually established.
The dwindling brook at the Kerith Ravine, where Elijah sat deep in thought, is a true picture of each of our lives. “Some time later the brook dried up”—this is the history of our yesterdays, and a prophecy of our tomorrows.
One way or the other, we must all learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver. The gift may last for a season, but the Giver is the only eternal love.
The Kerith Ravine was a difficult problem for Elijah until he arrived at Zarephath, and suddenly everything became as clear as daylight to him. God’s hard instructions are never His last words to us, for the woe, the waste, and the tears of life belong to its interlude, not its finale.
If the Lord had led Elijah directly to Zarephath, he would have missed something that helped to make him a wiser prophet and a better man—living by faith at Kerith. And whenever our earthly stream or any other outer resource has dried up, it has been allowed so we may learn that our hope and help are in God, who made heaven and earth. F. B. Meyer
Perhaps you, too, have camped by such sweet waters,
And quenched with joy your weary, parched soul’s thirst;
To find, as time goes on, your streamlet alters
From what it was at first.
Hearts that have cheered, or soothed, or blest, or strengthened;
Loves that have lavished unreservedly;
Joys, treasured joys—have passed, as time has lengthened,
If then, O soul, the brook your heart has cherished
Does fail you now—no more your thirst assuage—
If its once glad refreshing streams have perished,
Let HIM your heart engage.
He will not fail, nor mock, nor disappoint you;
His comfort and care change not with the years;
With oil of joy He surely will anoint you,
And wipe away your tears.
He did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)
What grace it requires when we are misunderstood yet handle it correctly, or when we are judged unkindly yet receive it in holy sweetness! Nothing tests our character as a Christian more than having something evil said about us. This kind of grinding test is what exposes whether we are solid gold or simply gold-plated metal. If we could only see 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... repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today” (2 Sam. 16:11–12).
Some Christians are easily turned away from the greatness of their life’s calling by pursuing their own grievances and enemies. They ultimately turn their lives into one petty whirlwind of warfare. It reminds me of trying to deal with a hornet’s nest. You may be able to disperse the hornets, but you will probably be terribly stung and receive nothing for your pain, for even their honey has no value.
May God grant us more of the Spirit of Christ, who, “when they hurled their insults at him, . . . did not retaliate.... Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:3). A. B. Simpson
For you He walked along the path of woe,
He was sharply struck with His head bent low.
He knew the deepest sorrow, pain, and grief,
He knew long endurance with no relief,
He took all the bitter from death’s deep cup,
He kept no blood drops but gave them all up.
Yes, for you, and for me, He won the fight
To take us to glory and realms of light.
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10)
What is a believer to do in times of darkness—a darkness of perplexities and confusion—a darkness not of the heart but of the mind? These times of darkness come to a faithful and believing disciple who is walking obediently in the will of God. They come as seasons when he does not know what to do or which way to turn. His sky becomes overcast with clouds, and the clear light of heaven does not shine on his path, so that he feels as if he were groping his way through complete darkness.
Dear believer, does this describe you? What should you do in times of darkness? Listen to God’s Word: “Let him... trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." Actually, the first thing to do is nothing. This is a difficult thing for our lowly human nature to do. There is a saying, “When you’re rattled, don’t rush." In other words, “When you are confused and do not know what to do, do nothing." When you find yourself in a spiritual fog, do not run ahead, but slow the pace of your life. And if necessary, keep your life’s ship anchored or tied to the dock.
The right thing is simply to trust God, for while we trust, He can work. Worrying, however, prevents Him from doing anything for us. If the darkness covering us strikes terror in our hearts and we run back and forth, seeking in vain to find a way of escape from the dark trial where God’s providence has placed us, then the Lord cannot work on our behalf.
Only the peace of God will quiet our minds and put our hearts at rest. We must place our hand in His as a little child and allow Him to lead us into the bright sunshine of His love. He knows the way out of the dense, dark forest, so may we climb into His arms, trusting Him to rescue us by showing us the shortest and most reliable road. Dr. Pardington
Remember, we are never without a pilot—even when we do not know which way to steer.
Hold on, my heart, in your believing—
Only the steadfast wins the crown;
He who, when stormy winds are heaving,
Parts with his anchor, will go down;
But he who Jesus holds through all,
Will stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.
Hold on! An end will come to sorrow;
Hope from the dust will conquering rise;
The storm foretells a summer’s morrow;
The Cross points on to Paradise;
The Father reigns! So cease all doubt;
Hold on, my heart. Hold on, hold out.
Do not be anxious about anything. (Philippians 4:6)
Quite a few Christians live in a terrible state of anxiety, constantly fretting over the concerns of life. The secret of living in perfect peace amid the hectic pace of daily life is one well worth knowing. What good has worrying ever accomplished? It has never made anyone stronger, helped anyone do God’s will, or provided for anyone a way of escape out of their anxiety or confusion. Worry only destroys the effectiveness of lives that would otherwise be useful and beautiful. Being restless and having worries and cares are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matt. 6:31). He does not mean that we are not to think ahead or that our life should never have a plan or pattern to it. He simply means that we are not to worry about these things.
People will know that you live in a constant state of anxiety by the lines on your face, the tone of your voice, your negative attitude, and the lack of joy in your spirit. So scale the heights of a life abandoned to God, and your perspective will change to the point that you will look down on the clouds beneath your feet. Darlow Sargeant
It is a sign of weakness to always worry and fret, question everything, and mistrust everyone. Can anything be gained by it? Don’t we only make ourselves unfit for action, and separate our minds from the ability to make wise decisions? We simply sink in our struggles when we could float by faith.
Oh, for the grace to be silent! Oh, to “be still, and know that [Jehovah is] God” (Ps. 46:10)! “The Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 89:18) will defend and deliver His own. We can be sure that His every word will stand forever, even though the mountains may fall into the sea. He deserves our total confidence. So come, my soul, return to your place of peace, and rest within the sweet embrace of the Lord Jesus. selected
Peace your inmost soul will fill
When you’re still!
The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. (Isaiah 30:18)
The greenest grass is found wherever the most rain falls. So I suppose it is the fog and mist of Ireland that makes it “the Emerald Isle." And wherever you find the widespread fog of trouble and the mist of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts that are full of the beautiful foliage of the comfort and love of God.
Dear Christian, do not say, “Where are all the swallows? They are all gone—they are dead." No, they are not dead. They have simply skimmed across the deep, blue sea, flying to a faraway land; but they will be back again soon.
Child of God, do not say, “All the flowers are dead—the winter has killed them, so they are gone." No! Although the winter has covered them with a white coat of snow, they will push up their heads again and will be alive very soon.
O believer, do not say that the sun has burned out, just because a cloud has hidden it. No, it is still there, planning a summer for you; for when it shines again, it will have caused those clouds to have dropped their April showers, each of them a mother to a sweet mayflower.
Above all, remember—when God hides His face from you, do not say that He has forgotten you. He is simply waiting for a little while to make you love Him more. And once He comes, you will rejoice with the inexpressible “joy of the Lord” (Neh. 8:10). Waiting on Him exercises your gift of grace and tests your faith. Therefore continue to wait in hope, for although the promise may linger, it will never come too late. Charles H. Spurgeon
Oh, every year has its winter,
And every year has its rain—
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
When new leaves sprout in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And tulips boast their blossoms—
And the birds go north again.
Oh, every heart has its sorrow,
And every heart has its pain—
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
It’s the sweetest thing to remember,
If your courage starts to wane,
When the cold, dark days are over—
That the birds go north again.
Do not fret. (Psalm 37:1)
I believe that this verse is as much a divine command as “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15). But what does it mean to fret? One person once defined it as that which makes a person rough on the surface, causing him to rub and wear himself and others away. Isn’t it true that an irritable, irrational, and critical person not only wears himself out but is also very draining and tiring to others? When we worry and fret, we are a constant annoyance. This psalm not only says, “Do not fret because of evil men” but leaves no room for fretting whatsoever. It is very harmful, and God does not want us to hurt ourselves or others.
Any physician can tell you that a fit of anger is more harmful to your system than a fever and that a disposition of continual fretting is not conducive to a healthy body. The next step down from fretting is being quick tempered, and that amounts to anger. May we set it aside once and for all and simply be obedient to the command “Do not fret." 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."
... dying, and yet we live on. (2 Corinthians 6:9)
Last summer I had a flower bed of asters that nearly covered my garden in the country. They were planted late in the season, but how beautiful they were! While the outer portion of the plants were still producing fresh flowers, the tops had gone to seed, and when an early frost came, I found that the radiant beauty of the blossoms had withered. All I could say at this point was, “OH well, I guess the season has been too much for them, and they have died." So I wished them a fond farewell.
After this I no longer enjoyed looking at the flower bed, for it seemed to be only a graveyard of flowers. Yet several weeks ago one of the gardeners called my attention to the fact that across the entire garden, asters were now sprouting up in great abundance. It appeared that every plant I thought the winter had destroyed had replanted fifty to take its place. What had the frost and the fierce winter wind done?
They had taken my flowers and destroyed them, casting them to the ground. They had walked across them with their snowy feet and, once finished with their work, said, “This is the end of you." And yet in the spring, for everyone destroyed, fifty witnesses arose and said, “It is through ‘dying... we live on.’”
As it is in the plant world, so it is in God’s kingdom. Through death came everlasting life. Through crucifixion and the tomb came the throne and the palace of the eternal God. Through apparent defeat came victory.
So do not be afraid of suffering or defeat. It is through being “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:9) and through being broken to pieces, and those pieces being torn to shreds, that we become people of strength. And it is the endurance of one believer that produces a multitude.
Others may yield to the appearance of things and follow the world. They may blossom quickly and find momentary prosperity, but their end will be one of eternal death. Henry Ward Beecher
Measure your life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth.
For love’s strength is found in love’s sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give.
Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison.... But ... the Lord was with him ... and gave him success in whatever he did. (Genesis 39:20–21, 23)
When God allows us to go to prison because of our service to Him, it is nearly the most blessed place in the world that we could be, because He goes with us. Joseph seems to have known this truth. He did not sulk, become discouraged and rebellious, or engage in self-pity by thinking “everything was against him." If he had done so, the prison warden would never have trusted him.
May we remember that if self-pity is allowed to set in, we will never be used by God again until it is totally removed. Joseph simply placed everything in joyful trust upon the Lord, and as a result, the prison warden placed everything into Joseph’s care.
Lord Jesus, when the prison door closes behind me, keep me trusting in You with complete and overflowing joy. Give Your work through me great success, and even in prison make me “free indeed” (John 8:36). 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 pleases Thee.
My cage confines me round,
Freely I cannot fly,
But though my wings are closely bound,
My soul is at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight or freedom of the soul.
I have learned to love the darkness of sorrow, for it is there I see the brightness of God’s face. Madame Guyon
Do not be anxious about anything. (Philippians 4:6)
Anxiety should never be found in a believer. In spite of the magnitude, quantity, and diversity of our trials, afflictions, and difficulties, anxiety should not exist under any circumstances. This is because we have a Father in heaven who is almighty, who loves His children as He loves His “one and only Son” (John 3:16), and whose complete joy and delight it is to continually assist them under all circumstances. We should heed His Word, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
“In everything”—not simply when our house is on fire or when our beloved spouse and children are gravely ill, but even in the smallest matters of life. We are to take everything to God—little things, very little things, even what the world calls trivial things. Yes, we are to take everything, living all day long in holy fellowship with our heavenly Father and our precious Lord Jesus. We should develop something of a spiritual instinct, causing us to immediately turn to God when a concern keeps us awake at night. During those sleepless nights, we should speak to Him, bringing our various concerns before Him, no matter how small they may be. Also speak to the Lord about any trial you are facing or any difficulties you may have in your family or professional life.
“By prayer and petition”—earnestly pleading, persevering and enduring, and waiting, waiting, waiting on God.
“With thanksgiving”—always laying a good foundation. Even if we have no possessions, there is one thing for which we can always be thankful—that He has saved us from hell. We can also give thanks that He has given us His Holy Word, His Holy Spirit, and the most precious gift of all—His Son. Therefore when we consider all this, we have abundant reasons for thanksgiving. May this be our goal!
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). This is such a wonderful, genuine, and precious blessing that to truly know it, you must experience it, for it “transcends all understanding."
May we take these truths to heart, instinctively walking in them, so the result will be lives that glorify God more abundantly than ever before. George Mueller, from Life of Trust
Search your heart several times a day, and if you find something that is disturbing your peace, remember to take the proper steps to restore the calm. Francis de Sales
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. (Acts 12:7)
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.... Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. (Acts 16:25–26)
This is the way God works. In our darkest hour, He walks to us across the waves, just as an angel came to Peter’s cell when the day of Peter’s execution dawned. And when the scaffold was completed for Mordecai’s execution, the king’s sleeplessness ultimately led to his action favoring God’s favored race. (See Est. 6.)
Dear soul, you may have to experience the very worst before you are delivered, but you will be delivered! God may keep you waiting, but He will always remember His promise and will appear in time to fulfill His sacred Word that cannot be broken. F. B. Meyer
God has a simplicity about Him in working out His plans, and yet He possesses a resourcefulness equal to any difficulty. His faithfulness to His trusting children is unwavering, and He is steadfast in holding to His purpose. In Joseph’s life, we see God work through a fellow prisoner, later through a dream, and finally through lifting Joseph from a prison to the position of governor. And the length of Joseph’s prison stay gave him the strength and steadiness he needed as governor.
It is always safe to trust God’s methods and to live by His clock. Samuel Dickey Gordon
God in His providence has a thousand keys to open a thousand different doors in order to deliver His own, no matter how desperate the situation may have become. May we be faithful to do our part, which is simply to suffer for Him, and to place Christ’s part on Him and then leave it there. George MacDonald
Difficulty is actually the atmosphere surrounding a miracle, or a miracle in its initial stage. Yet if it is to be a great miracle, the surrounding condition will be not simply a difficulty but an utter impossibility. And it is the clinging hand of His child that makes a desperate situation a delight to God.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)
Those people God uses most to bring glory to Himself are those who are completely broken, for the sacrifice He accepts is a “broken and contrite heart." It was not until Jacob’s natural strength was broken, when “his hip was wrenched” (Gen. 32:25) at Peniel, that he came to the point where God could clothe him with spiritual power. And it was not until Moses struck the rock at Horeb, breaking its surface, that cool “water [came] out of it for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:6).
It was not until Gideon’s three hundred specially chosen soldiers “broke the jars that were in their hands” (Judg. 7:19), which symbolized brokenness in their lives, that the hidden light of the torches shone forth, bringing terror to their enemies. It was once the poor widow broke the seal on her only remaining jar of oil and began to pour it that God miraculously multiplied it to pay her debts and thereby supplied her means of support. (See 2 Kings 4:1–7.)
It was not until Esther risked her life and broke through the strict laws of a heathen king’s court that she obtained favor to rescue her people from death. (See Est. 4:16.)
It was once Jesus took “the five loaves... and broke them” (Luke 9:16) that the bread was multiplied to feed the five thousand. Through the very process of the loaves being broken, the miracle occurred It was when Mary broke her beautiful “alabaster jar of very expensive perfume” (Matt. 26:7), destroying its future usefulness and value, that the wonderful fragrance filled the house. And it was when Jesus allowed His precious body to be broken by thorns, nails, and a spear that His inner life was poured out like an ocean of crystal-clear water, for thirsty sinners to drink and then live.
It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people, and all of spiritual life—God uses BROKEN THINGS.
Those who have been gripped by the power of the Holy Spirit and are used for God’s glory are those who have been broken in their finances, broken in their self will, broken in their ambitions, broken in their lofty ideals, broken in their worldly reputation, broken in their desires, and often broken in their health. Yes, He uses those who are despised by the world and who seem totally hopeless and helpless, just as Isaiah said: “The lame will carry off plunder” (Isa. 33:23).
Oh, break my heart; but break it as a field
Is plowed and broken for the seeds of corn;
Oh, break it as the buds, by green leaf sealed,
Are, to unloose the golden blossom, torn;
Love would I offer unto Love’s great Master,
Set free the fragrance, break the alabaster.
Oh, break my heart; break it, victorious God,
That life’s eternal well may flow abroad;
Oh, 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, Your victory singing.
Thomas Toke Bunch
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)
There are certain things that are not sins themselves but that tend to weigh us down or become distractions and stumbling blocks to our Christian growth. One of the worst of these is the feeling of despair or hopelessness. A heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness.
The failure of the children of Israel to enter the Promised Land began with their complaining, or as the Word says it, “All the Israelites grumbled” (Num. 14:2). It may have started with a faint desire to complain and be discontent, but they allowed it to continue until it blossomed and ripened into total rebellion and ruin.
We should never give ourselves the freedom to doubt God or His eternal love and faithfulness toward us in everything. We can be determined to set our own will against doubt just as we do against any other sin. Then as we stand firm, refusing to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid, giving us the faith of God and crowning us with victory.
It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, worrying, wondering if God has forsaken us, and thinking that after all we have been through, our hopes are going to end in failure. But let us refuse to be discouraged and unhappy! Let us “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2), even when we do not feel any happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by firm determination, and by simply regarding it as true, and we will find that God will make it real to us. selected
The Devil has two very masterful tricks. The first is to tempt us to become discouraged, for then we are defeated and of no service to others, at least for a while. The other is to tempt us to doubt, thereby breaking the bond of faith that unites us with the Father. So watch out! Do not be tricked either way. G. E. M.
I like to cultivate the spirit of happiness! It retunes my soul and keeps it so perfectly in tune that Satan is afraid to touch it. The chords of my soul become so vibrant and full of heavenly electricity that he takes his fiendish fingers from me and goes somewhere else! Satan is always wary of interfering with me when my heart is full of the happiness and joy of the Holy Spirit.
My plan is simply to shun the spirit of sadness as I would normally shun Satan, but unfortunately I am not always successful. Like the Devil himself, sadness confronts me while I am on the highway of usefulness. And it stays face to face with me until my poor soul turns blue and sad! In fact, sadness discolors everything around me and produces a mental paralysis. Nothing has any appeal to me, future prospects seem clouded in darkness, and my soul loses all its aspirations and power!
An elderly believer once said, “Cheerfulness in our faith causes any act of service to be performed with delight, and we are never moved ahead as swiftly in our spiritual calling as when we are carried on the wings of happiness. Sadness, however, clips those wings or, using another analogy, causes the wheels to fall off our chariot of service. Our chariot then becomes like those of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, dragging heavily on its axle and slowing our progress."
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)
They were people who were living to themselves. Their hopes, promises, and dreams still controlled them, but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for a repentant heart and had surrendered themselves with a willingness to pay any price for it, and He sent them sorrow. They had asked for purity, and He sent them sudden anguish. They had asked for meekness, and He had broken their hearts. They had asked to be dead to the world, and He killed all their living hopes. They had asked to be made like Him, so He placed them in the fire “as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Mal. 3:3), until they could reflect His image. They had asked to help carry His cross, yet when He held it out to them, it cut and tore their hands.
They had not fully understood what they asked, but He had taken them at their word and granted them all their requests. They had been unsure whether to follow Him such a long distance or whether to come so close to Him. An awe and a fear was upon them, as Jacob at Bethel when he dreamed of “a stairway ... reaching to heaven” (Gen. 28:12), or Eliphaz “amid disquieting dreams in the night” (Job 4:13), or as the disciples when “they were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” (Luke 24:37), not realizing it was Jesus. The disciples were so filled with awe, they felt like asking Him either to depart from them or to hide His glory.
They found it easier to obey than to suffer, to work than to give up, and to carry the cross than to hang upon it. But now they could not turn back, for they had come too close to the unseen cross of the spiritual life, and its virtues had pierced them too deeply. And the Lord was fulfilling this promise of His to them: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself ” (John 12:32).
Now at last their opportunity had come. Earlier they had only heard of the mystery, but now they felt it. He had fastened His eyes of love on them, as He had on Mary and Peter, so they could only choose to follow Him. And little by little, from time to time, with quick glimmers of light, the mystery of His cross shone upon them. They saw Him “lifted up from the earth,” and gazed on the glory that radiated from the wounds of His holy suffering. As they looked upon Him, they approached Him and were changed into His likeness. His name then shone out through them, for He lived within them. Their life from that moment on was one of inexpressible fellowship solely with Him above. They were willing to live without possessions that others owned and that they could have had, in order to be unlike others so they would be more like Him.
This is the description of all those throughout the ages who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Rev. 14:4). If they had chosen selfishly for themselves or if their friends had chosen for them, they would have made other choices. Their lives would have shone more brightly here on earth but less gloriously in His kingdom. Their legacy would have been that of Lot instead of Abraham. And if they had stopped along the way or if God had removed His hand from them, allowing them to stray, what would they have lost? What would they have forfeited at their resurrection?
Yet God strengthened them and protected them, even from themselves. Often, in His mercy He held them up when they otherwise would have slipped and fallen. And even in this life, they knew that all He did was done well. They knew it was good to suffer in this life so they would reign in the one to come; to bear the cross below, to wear a crown above; and to know that not their will but His was done in them and through them. Anonymous
Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be... mistreated four hundred years. But... afterward they will come out with great possessions. (Genesis 15:13–14)
I can be sure that part of God’s promised blessing to me is delay and suffering. The delay in Abraham’s lifetime that seemed to put God’s promise well beyond fulfillment was then followed by the seemingly unending delay experienced by Abraham’s descendants. But it was indeed only a delay—the promise was fulfilled, for ultimately they did “come out with great possessions."
God is going to test me with delays, and along with the delays will come suffering. Yet through it all God’s promise stands. I have His new covenant in Christ, and His sacred promise of every smaller blessing that I need. The delays and the suffering are actually part of the promised blessings, so may I praise Him for them today. May I “be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14). Charles Gallaudet 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 your falling tears?
Say not the Father has not heard your prayer;
You will have your desire sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? No, 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 will see sometime, somewhere.
Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Its feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms it stands undaunted,
Nor shakes before the loudest thunder shock.
It knows Omnipotence has heard its prayer,
And cries, “It will be done”—sometime, somewhere.
Ophelia G. Browning
The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them. (Numbers 10:33)
God sometimes does influence us with a simple touch or feeling, but not so we would act on the feeling. If the touch is from Him, He will then provide sufficient evidence to confirm it beyond the slightest doubt.
Consider the beautiful story of Jeremiah, when he felt God leading him to purchase the field at Anathoth. He did not act on his initial feeling but waited for God to completely fulfill His words to him before taking action. Then once his cousin came to him, bringing the external evidence of God’s direction by making a proposal for the purchase, he responded and said, “I knew that this was the word of the Lord” (Jer. 32:8).
Jeremiah waited until God confirmed his feeling through a providential act, and then he worked with a clear view of the facts, which God could also use to bring conviction to others. God wants us to act only once we have His mind on a certain situation. We are not to ignore the Shepherd’s personal voice to us, but like “Paul and his companions” (Acts 16:6) at Troas, we are to listen and also examine His providential work in our circumstances, in order to glean the full mind of the Lord. A.B. Simpson
Wherever God’s finger points, His hand will clear a way.
Never say in your heart what you will or will not do but wait until God reveals His way to you. As long as that way is hidden, it is clear that there is no need of action and that He holds Himself accountable for all the results of keeping you exactly where you are. selected
For God through ways we have not known,
Will lead His own.
The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
There is a part of the sea known as “the cushion of the sea." It lies beneath the surface that is agitated by storms and churned by the wind. It is so deep that it is a part of the sea that is never stirred. When the ocean floor in these deep places is dredged of the remains of plant or animal life, it reveals evidence of having remained completely undisturbed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
The peace of God is an eternal calm like the cushion of the sea. It lies so deeply within the human heart that no external difficulty or disturbance can reach it. And anyone who enters the presence of God becomes a partaker of that undisturbed and undisturbable calm. Arthur Tappan Pierson
When winds are raging o’er the upper ocean,
And waves are tossed wild with an angry roar,
It’s said, far down beneath the wild commotion,
That peaceful stillness reigns forevermore.
Far, far beneath, noise of tempests falls silent,
And silver waves lie ever peacefully,
And no storm, however fierce or violent,
Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea.
So to the heart that knows Your love, O Father,
There is a temple sacred evermore,
And all life’s angry voices causing bother
Die in hushed silence at its peaceful door.
Far, far away, the roars of strife fall silent,
And loving thoughts rise ever peacefully,
And no storm, however fierce or violent,
Disturbs the soul that dwells, O Lord, in Thee.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Pilgrim was taken to a large upper room that faced the sunrise. And the name of the room was Peace. from Pilgrim’s Progress
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
The owner of the house I have lived in for many years has notified me that he will do little or nothing to keep it in repair. He also advised me to be ready to move.
At first this was not very welcome news. In many respects the surrounding area is quite pleasant, and if not for the evidence of a somewhat declining condition, the house seems rather nice. Yet a closer look reveals that even a light wind causes it to shake and sway, and its foundation is not sufficient to make it secure. Therefore I am getting ready to move.
As I consider the move, it is strange how quickly my interest is transferred to my prospective new home in another country. I have been consulting maps and studying accounts of its inhabitants. And someone who has come from there to visit has told me that it is beautiful beyond description and that language is inadequate to fully describe what he heard while there. He said that in order to make an investment there, he has suffered the loss of everything he owned here, yet rejoices in what others would call a sacrifice. Another person, whose love for me has been proved by the greatest possible test, now lives there. He has sent me several clusters of the most delicious grapes I have ever eaten, and after tasting them everything here tastes very bland.
Several times I have gone to the edge of the river that forms the boundary between here and there and have longed to be with those singing praises to the King on the other side. Many of my friends have moved across that river, but before leaving here they spoke of my following them later. I have seen the smile on their faces as they passed from my sight. So each time I am asked to make some new investment here, I now respond, “I am getting ready to move." selected
The words of Jesus during His last days on earth vividly express His desire to go “back to the Father” (John 16:28). We, as His people, also have a vision of something far beyond the difficulties and disappointments of this life and are traveling toward fulfillment, completion, and an enriched life. We too are going “to the Father." Much of our new home is still unclear to us, but two things are certain. Our “Father’s house” (John 14:2) is our home. And it is in the presence of the Lord. As believers, we know and understand that we are all travelers and not permanent residents of this world. R. C. Gillie
The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their unmarked pathway winging
To summer lands of song, afar, unknown.
Let us go singing, then, and not go crying:
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
It’s merely flying to a Summer Land.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. (Exodus 3:1–2)
The vision of the Angel of the Lord came to Moses while he was involved in his everyday work. That is exactly where the Lord delights in giving His revelations. He seeks a man traveling an ordinary road, and “suddenly a light from heaven” (Acts 9:3) shines on him. And a “stairway resting on the earth” (Gen. 28:12) can reach from the marketplace to heaven, transforming a life from one of drudgery to one of grace.
Beloved Father, help me to expect you as I travel the ordinary road of life. I am not asking for sensational experiences. Fellowship with me through my everyday work and service, and be my companion when I take an ordinary journey. And let my humble life be transformed by Your presence.
Some Christians think they must always be on the mountaintop of extraordinary joy and revelation, but this is not God’s way. Those high spiritual times and wonderful communication with the unseen world are not promised to us, but a daily life of communion with Him is. And it is enough for us, for He will give us those times of exceptional revelation if it is the right thing for us.
There were only three disciples allowed to see the Transfiguration, and the same three also experienced the darkness of Gethsemane. No one can stay on the mountaintop of favor forever, for there are responsibilities in the valley. Christ fulfilled His life’s work not in the glory but in the valley, and it was there He was truly and completely the Messiah.
The value of the vision and the accompanying glory is its gift of equipping us for service and endurance. selected
Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave. (1 Kings 8:56)
Someday we will understand that God has a reason behind every no He gives us through the course of our lives. Yet even in this life, He always makes it up to us. When God’s people are worried and concerned that their prayers are not being answered, how often we have seen Him working to answer them in a far greater way! Occasionally we catch a glimpse of this, but the complete revelation of it will not be seen until later.
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 songbirds are singing as on we go,
Pausing to pick the flowers at our feet,
Stopping to drink of the streams that 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;
Yet, dear, there is home at the journey’s end,
And these are the trials the Father does send
To draw us as sheep to His Heavenly fold,
If God says no to our prayer, dear heart.
If only we had the faith not to rush into things but to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Ps. 37:7) — waiting for His full explanation that will not be revealed until Jesus Christ comes again! When has God ever taken anything from a person without restoring it many times over? Yet what are we to think if He does not immediately restore what has been taken? Is today His only day to work? Does He have any concerns beyond this little world of ours? Can He still work beyond our death, or does the door of the grave open on nothing but infinite darkness and eternal silence?
Even if we confine our thinking to this life, it is true that God never touches the heart with a trial without intending to bestow a greater gift or compassionate blessing. The person who knows how to wait has grown to an exceptional degree in God’s grace. selected
When the frosts are in the valley,
And the mountaintops are gray,
And the choicest blooms are blighted,
And the blossoms die away,
A loving Father whispers,
“This all comes from my hand”;
Blessed are you if you trust
When you cannot understand.
If, after years of toiling,
Your wealth should fly away
And leave your hands all empty,
And your hair is turning gray,
Remember then your Father
Owns all the sea and land;
Blessed are you if you trust
When you cannot understand.
I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp. (Isaiah 41:15)
Around the turn of the twentieth century, a bar of steel was worth about $5. Yet when forged into horseshoes, it was worth $10; when made into needles, its value was $350; when used to make small pocket knife blades, its worth was $32,000; when made into springs for watches, its value increased to $250,000. What a pounding the steel bar had to endure to be worth this much! But the more it was shaped, hammered, put through fire, beaten, pounded, and polished, the greater its value.
May we use this analogy as a reminder to be still, silent, and long-suffering, for it is those who suffer the most who yield the most. And it is through pain that God gets the most out of us, for His glory and for the blessing of others. selected
Oh, give Your servant patience to be still,
And bear Your will;
Courage to venture wholly on
Your arm That will not harm;
The wisdom that will never let me stray
Out of my way;
The love that, now afflicting, yet knows best
When I should rest.
Our life is very mysterious. In fact, it would be totally unexplainable unless we believed that God was preparing us for events and ministries that lie unseen beyond the veil of the eternal world—where spirits like tempered steel will be required for special service.
The sharper the Craftsman’s knives, the finer and more beautiful His work.
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24)
During the American Civil War, a certain man had a son who enlisted in the Union army. The father was a banker, and although he gave his consent to his son, it seemed as if it would break his heart to let him go.
Once his son had left, he became deeply interested in the plight of soldiers, and whenever he saw one in uniform, his heart went out to him as he thought of his own dear boy. Often to the neglect of his business, he began spending his time and money to care for the soldiers who came home disabled. His friends pleaded with him not to neglect his business in this way, by spending so much time and energy on the soldiers. So he decided to give it all up, taking his friends’ advice.
After he had made this decision, however, a young private in a faded, worn uniform stepped into the bank. It was easy to discern from the wounds on his face and hands that he had been in the army field hospital. The poor young man was fumbling in his pocket to find something, when the banker saw him. Perceiving his purpose for coming into the bank, he said to the soldier, “My dear man, I cannot help you today. I am extremely busy. You will have to go to the army headquarters, where the officers will take care of you."
The poor wounded soldier still stood there, not seeming to fully understand what was being said to him. He continued to fumble in his pockets and finally pulled out a scrap of dirty paper. He laid the filthy page before the banker, who read the following words written in pencil:
This is one of my friends, who was wounded in the last battle and is coming to you directly from the hospital. Please receive him as you would me.
All the banker’s previous resolve to focus solely on his business instead of soldiers quickly flew away. He took the young man to his own magnificent home and gave him Charlie’s room and seat at the dinner table. He cared for him until the food, rest, and love had returned him to health, and then sent him back to his place of service to again risk his life for his country's flag. selected
Now you will see what I will do. Hebrews 13:2
He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23)
Christ Jesus, in His humanity, felt the need of complete solitude—to be entirely by Himself, alone with Himself. Each of us knows how draining constant interchange with others can be and how it exhausts our energy. As part of humankind, Jesus knew this and felt the need to be by Himself in order to regain His strength. Solitude was also important to Him in order to fully realize His high calling, His human weakness, and His total dependence on His Father.
As a child of God, how much more do we need times of complete solitude—times to deal with the spiritual realities of life and to be alone with God the Father. If there was ever anyone who could dispense with special times of solitude and fellowship, it was our Lord. Yet even He could not maintain His full strength and power for His work and His fellowship with the Father without His quiet time. God desires that every servant of His would understand and perform this blessed practice, that His church would know how to train its children to recognize this high and holy privilege, and that every believer would realize the importance of making time for God alone.
Oh, the thought of having God all alone to myself and knowing that God has me all alone to Himself! Andrew Murray
Lamartine, the first of the French Romantic poets and a writer of the nineteenth century, in one of his books wrote of how his mother had a secluded spot in the garden where she spent the same hour of each day. He related that nobody ever dreamed of intruding upon her for even a moment of that hour. It was the holy garden of the Lord to her.
Pity those people who have no such Beulah land! (See Isa. 62:4.) Jesus said, “Go into your room, close the door and pray” (Matt. 6:6), for it is in quiet solitude that we catch the deep and mysterious truths that flow from the soul of the things God allows to enter our lives.
My soul, practice being alone with Christ! The Scripture says, “When he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything” (Mark 4:34). Do not wonder about the truth of this verse, for it can be true of your life as well. If you desire to have understanding, then dismiss the crowd, just as Jesus did. (See Matt. 14:22.) Let them “go away one at a time ... until only Jesus [is] left” (John 8:9) with you. Have you ever pictured yourself as the last remaining person on earth, or the only person left in the entire universe?
If you were the only person remaining in the universe, your every thought would be, “God and I... ! God and I... !” And yet He is already as close to you as that. He is as near as if no heart but His and yours ever beat throughout the boundlessness of space.
O my soul, practice that solitude! Practice dismissing the crowd! Practice the stillness of your heart! Practice the majestic song “God and I! God and I!” Let no one come between you and your wrestling angel! You will receive conviction yet pardon, when you meet Jesus alone! George Matheson
All your waves and breakers have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7)
They are HIS waves, whether they break over 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 waves, whether for our sure comfort
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 waves, whether we are hard-striving
Through tempest-driven waves that never cease,
While deep to deep with turmoil loud is calling;
Or at His word they hush themselves in peace.
They are HIS waves, whether He separates them,
Making us walk dry ground where seas had flowed;
Or lets tumultuous breakers surge about us,
Rushing unchecked across our only road.
They are HIS waves, and He directs 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 firmly in the place where your dear Lord has put you, and do your best there. God sends us trials or tests, and places life before us as a face-to-face opponent. It is through the pounding of a serious conflict that He expects us to grow strong. The tree planted where the fierce winds twist its branches and bend its trunk, often nearly to the point of breaking, is commonly more firmly rooted than a tree growing in a secluded valley where storms never bring any stress or strain.
The same is true of human life. The strongest and greatest character is grown through hardship. selected
Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.... And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–6)
This is our rightful place—“seated... with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” yet seated and still. But how few of us actually experience this! In fact, most of us believe it is impossible to sit still “in the heavenly realms” while living our everyday life in a world so full of turmoil.
Oh, we believe it may be possible to visit these “heavenly realms” on Sundays or now and then during times of great spiritual emphasis and praise, but to actually be “seated” there all day, every day, is a completely different matter. Yet it is clear from the Scriptures that it is meant not only for Sundays but for weekdays as well.
A quiet spirit is of priceless value when performing outward activities. Nothing so greatly hinders the work of God’s unseen spiritual forces, upon which our success in everything truly depends, as the spirit of unrest and anxiety.
There is tremendous power in stillness. A great believer once said, “All things come to him who knows how to trust and to be silent." This fact is rich with meaning, and a true understanding of it would greatly change our ways of working. Instead of continuing our restless striving, we would “sit down” inwardly before the Lord, allowing the divine forces of His Spirit to silently work out the means to accomplish our goals and aspirations.
You may not see or feel the inner workings of His silent power, but rest assured it is always mightily at work. And it will work for you, if you will only quiet your spirit enough to be carried along by the current 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.
Make it your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God through every situation.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. (Malachi 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 a metallurgist will take the greatest care. He subjects the metal to a hot fire, for only the refiner’s fire will melt the metal, release the dross, and allow the remaining, pure metal to take a new and perfect shape in the mold.
A good refiner never leaves the crucible but, as the above verse indicates, “will sit” down by it so the fire will not become even one degree too hot and possibly harm the metal. And as soon as he skims the last bit of dross from the surface and sees his face reflected in the pure metal, he extinguishes the fire. Arthur Tappan Pierson
He sat by a fire of sevenfold heat,
As He looked at 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 mold as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we would have asked for delay,
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, though unseen by us,
With a look of unspeakable love.
Should we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment’s pain?
Not so! for He saw through the present cross
The joy 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.
Let us run with patience. (Hebrews 12:1 KJV)
Running “with patience” is a very difficult thing to do. The word “running” itself suggests the absence of patience, or an eagerness to reach the goal. Yet we often associate patience with lying down or standing still. We think of it as an angel who guards the bed of the disabled. Yet I do not believe that the kind of patience a disabled person may have is the hardest to achieve.
There is another kind of patience that I believe is harder to obtain—the patience that runs. Lying down during a time of grief, or being quiet after a financial setback, certainly implies great strength, but I know of something that suggests even greater strength—the power to continue working after a setback, the power to still run with a heavy heart, and the power to perform your daily tasks with deep sorrow in your spirit. This is a Christ Like thing!
Many of us could tearlessly deal with our grief if only we were allowed to do so in private. Yet what is so difficult is that most of us are called to exercise our patience not in bed but in the open street, for all to see. We are called upon to bury our sorrows not in restful inactivity but in active service—in our workplace, while shopping, and during social events—contributing to other people’s joy. No other way of burying our sorrow is as difficult as this, for it is truly what is meant by running “with patience."
Dear Son of Man, this was Your kind of patience. It was both waiting and running at one time—waiting for the ultimate goal while in the meantime doing lesser work. I see You at Cana of Galilee, turning water into wine so the marriage feast would not be ruined. I see You in the desert, feeding the multitude with bread, simply to relieve a temporary need. Yet all the time, You were bearing a mighty grief—not shared or spoken. Others may ask for a “rainbow in the clouds” (Gen. 9:13), but I would ask for even more from You. Make me, in my cloud, a rainbow bringing the ministry of joy to others. My patience will only be perfect when it works in Your vineyard. George Matheson
When all our hopes are gone,
It is best our hands 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.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8:26–27)
This is a deep mystery of prayer. It is a delicate, divine tool that words cannot express and theology cannot explain, but the humblest believer knows, even when he does not understand.
Oh, the burdens we lovingly bear but cannot understand! Oh, the inexpressible longings of our hearts for things we cannot comprehend! Yet we know they are an echo from the throne of God, and a whisper from His heart. They are often a groan rather than a song, and a burden rather than a floating feather. But they are a blessed burden, and a groan whose undertone is praise and unspeakable joy. They are “groans that words cannot express." We cannot always express them ourselves, and often all we understand is that God is praying in us for something that only He understands and that needs His touch.
So we can simply pour from the fullness of our heart the burden of our spirit and the sorrow that seems to crush us. We can know that He hears, loves, understands, receives, and separates from our prayer everything that is in error, imperfect, or wrong. And then He presents the remainder, along with the incense of the great High Priest, before His throne on high. We may be assured that our prayer is heard, accepted, and answered in His name. A. B. Simpson
It is not necessary to be continually speaking to God, or always hearing from God, in order to have communion or fellowship with Him, for there is an unspeakable fellowship that is sweeter than words. A little child can sit all day long beside his mother, totally engrossed in his playing, while his mother is consumed by her work, and although both are busy and few words are spoken by either, they are in perfect fellowship. The child knows his mother is there, and she knows that he is all right.
In the same way, a believer and his Savior can continue many hours in the silent fellowship of love. And although the believer may be busy with the ordinary things of life, he can be mindful that every detail of his life is touched by the character of God’s presence, and can have the awareness of His approval and blessing.
Then when troubled with burdens and difficulties too complicated to put into words and too puzzling to express or fully understand, how sweet it is to fall into the embrace of His blessed arms and to simply sob out the sorrow that we cannot speak! selected