In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!
(Jared Waterbury, "Meditations and Prayers" 1840)
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1
"Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards." The world in which we dwell is but "a valley of tears." Sin has caused these tears to flow; and every sinner must, sooner or later, pour in his contribution of personal grief, to swell the general tide of sorrows. The domestic circle must be invaded by the ruthless hand of death. Wealth may abound one day, to be followed by poverty the next; or even if retained, riches may prove a source of anxiety and temptation to its possessor. In short, all must drink of the bitter cup!
Alas, the poor lost sinner, who finds all his happiness in the things of earth — when these are gone, has nothing left. He has no shelter from the storm. It must beat upon his naked head. But not so the Christian. He can say, under the severest afflictions, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble!"
O what an unspeakable blessing to have an almighty support! How calming to the soul in the dark hour of adversity, to be able to pour all its sorrows into the bosom of God! When death has seemed to hover over us, to aim his shafts at us or ours — what sweet consolation have we found in God! In "the secret place of the Most High," we have been able to dwell safely. When the world without has been covered with gloom — all has been sunshine within. When the power of the tempter has overwhelmed us — the arm of Jesus has lifted us up and pointed out a way of escape. Whatever then are our trials, let us still trust in God — our "ever-present help in times of trouble." His promise — whatever is our situation, is "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me!" 2 Corinthians 12:9
O God, it is the hour of darkness for me. "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon us, and horror has overwhelmed us." Where can we look, but unto You? What now can be our support, but Your precious promises? You have declared Yourself to be "a refuge" to Your people, "their ever-present help in times of trouble." Often have Your redeemed people experienced the truth of this comforting declaration. When trouble and sorrow, fear and anxiety, have taken hold upon them — they have fled to this sweet refuge. They have poured out their souls unto You — and You have helped them in the time of their distress. You have calmed their rising fears, and enabled them to resign every event into Your nail-scarred hands. What peace has then pervaded their souls!
Let Your merciful loving-kindness then visit us in this hour of our tribulation. Hide not Your face from us. O speak peace to our troubled spirits. Hide us under the shadow of Your wings "until these calamities are over and past." Strengthen our faith to take a firm hold of Your promises, and let no vicissitudes of this life, no threatening dangers — shake our confidence in You or in Your declarations. For the sake of Jesus Christ, our hope and our Redeemer. Amen.