Mother, don't you love me?
(Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898)
"I have seen his ways — and will heal him!" Isaiah 57:18
Here is one of the blessedly incomprehensible paradoxes of God's love and mercy, which startles us by its excess of compassionate grace: "I have seen his ways, and . . ." — one would have thought that the next sentence must be, "I will punish him," or at least, "I will rebuke him!" But, instead of wrath — here is pardon! Pity makes room for love; and in the place of bitterness, the Lord gives a blessing! "I have seen his ways — and will heal him!"
O wanderer, will not these tender words cause you to return to your Lord?
O stony heart — will you not break at so loving a touch as this?
O cold and half-dead soul — will not such a Divine cordial revive you?
"I have seen his ways." What "ways" has God seen in you? Have they not been "wicked," "crooked," "perverse," "your own ways" — "the ways of death?" Have you not turned aside from the path of life, and refused to walk "in all His way," and chosen "a stubborn way" for yourself?
Our heart must give a sad assent to all these charges. As we bow humbly before Him, and say, "You are acquainted with all my ways" — we feel that such knowledge of us on His part, intensifies our wonder and gratitude at the loving compassion with which He regards us!
When I was a little child, and had been troublesome to my mother — her reproof or punishment would often be followed by my trembling question, "Mother, don't you love me?" And my mother's reply invariably was, "Yes, I do love you; but I do not love your naughty ways!" Poor mother! Doubtless I tried her very much, and this was the best that grieved parental love could say. But our heavenly Father has sweeter, choicer words than these, for His erring children.
His love is Divine, so He says, "I have seen his ways — and will heal him!" O sweet pitifulness of our God! O inexplicable tenderness! O love surpassing all earth's loveliest affection! Do not our hard hearts yield under the power of such compassion as this?
God knows all our wickedness, He has seen all our waywardness; yet His purpose towards us is one of healing and pardon — and not of anger and estrangement.
As I learn more of God, I get so sick of my sin — indwelling-sin, heart-sin, that my soul welcomes this Word of the Lord, as a condemned prisoner embraces a pardon, or as a drowning man clutches the life-buoy thrown out for his rescue. To be healed of the disease which wastes us, to be delivered from the deadness and indifference which enchain us, to have a perfect heart with the Lord our God, and to walk before Him in a perfect way — this, I take it, is the blessed prospect held out by this promise. Who will claim its fulfillment at once? Who will take our gracious God at His Word, and believingly receive the priceless blessing which His love offers?
O blessed Lord, Your forbearance with us in the past, has been a miracle of mercy! You have seen so much in us which Your soul has abhorred — and yet You come now with this gift of healing in Your hands, which means not only pardon — but the power to be holy.
Lord, we lift up our empty, beseeching hands — to Your full ones. Our own ways have led us farther and farther from You; now let Your forgiving, healing love draw us so close to You, that we can never again be among those "who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness."