Days Past, and Days to Come
("Pleasant Readings for the Home" Author unknown)
"Trust in the Lord, and truly you shall be fed."
Days that are past! Yes, they are passed away forever, and can never be recalled. Days full of precious hours, laden with opportunities for good or evil — either improved or lost. The past we think of, its pleasant memories refresh and cheer us — and its dark and cheerless days teach us lessons of wisdom for the days to come.
Let the beginning and the closing of each day find us at the footstool of our Heavenly Father, for there is the source of our strength, and the foundation of our peace — the secret of our happiness.
We think of the past — and feel thankful. We are the wiser by our experience, and we seek to pursue our journey more trustfully and cautiously.
There have been days when we said, "All things are against us!" — when we should have said, "He does all things well!" — and, with David, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." In the darkest gloom, there was a divine promise — and its power was sufficient for our need.
Every promise is as a staff for the hand of faith to use, and if we have faith enough to lean upon it — it will bear us up under all the weight of care and sin and trouble that oppress us. Let us, then, look beyond the clouds and mists of time to the better country, and sing —
There is a blessed home,
Beyond this land of woe,
Where trials never come,
Nor tears of sorrow flow.
Where faith is lost in sight,
And patient hope is crowned,
And everlasting light
Its glory throws around!
We, too, naturally look back upon the dark days — those foreboding days, when the sky was overcast, and difficulties thickened. It was like walking through a fog — when we entered, all seemed dark and misty before us, and as we advanced we were completely enveloped in the hazy, cheerless cloud. But there was a little space around us, clear enough to show the path a few yards before — it was enough — and we went straight through.
So, was it not a foreboding day to you, reader, when out of work, and returning home, you saw your family needing food, and that after your patient perseverance? No doubt you were downcast and disheartened — but God cared for you, though you could not realize it. David rested on God's knowledge and care, when he said, "Though I am poor and needy — yet the Lord thinks on me." Our Heavenly Father says to every anxious one, "Trust in the Lord, and truly you shall be fed." He sweetens every care, lightens every burden — just in proportion as we trust His promise and rely on His care.
A pious woman, in the days of persecution, used to say she would never lack, because her God would supply her in every need. She was taken before an unjust judge for attending the worship of God. The judge, on seeing her, tauntingly said, "I have often wished to have you in my power, and now I shall send you to prison, and then how will you be fed?"
She replied, "If it is my Heavenly Father's pleasure, I shall be fed from your table." And that was literally the case; for the judge's wife, being present at her examination, was greatly surprised with the good woman's firmness, and took care to send her food from her table, so that she was comfortably supplied all the time she was in prison; and the other found her reward, for the Lord was pleased to convert her soul, and give her the blessing of His salvation.
We have had days of sorrow, when we smarted beneath the chastening rod, as loved ones have been stricken, and taken from us — days when pain and sickness invaded our homes, causing us many a pang, and we refused to be comforted, although God had said, "The days of your mourning shall be ended, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Those lonely days, too, that we experience, when the soul sighs and longs for sympathy, when there are heart-sorrows that we cannot tell our nearest friend, and we say in the loneliness of our spirit,
"Father, my sorrow lies too deep
For human sympathy,
It knows not how to tell itself
To any but to Thee."
Then we felt alone — and yet we were not alone, for, as our blessed Savior, when in the hour of His deepest sorrow, said, "The Father is with Me," so we should not lose confidence in our Divine Helper; rather let us say,
Methinks I hear my Savior say,
"Come closer, closer, soul, today.
Of all My fullness, come partake,
And I your joy will perfect make;
Come closer, closer, soul, to Me.
Draw near, you weary one, nor fear;
I am your portion, rest you here,
Nor let one doubt your peace alloy,
Abide in Me, your life, your joy;
Come closer, closer, soul, to Me.
Draw nearer, weeping one, and I
Will ease your cross, oh come you nigh,
And ever seek and find in Me,
New strength to bear, new light to see;
Come closer, closer, soul, to Me.
Come closer, tearful one, and hide
Beneath My shadow — there abide
Until the bright dawning of that day,
When gloom and night shall flee away;
Come closer, closer, soul, to Me!"
My reader, let your mind rather dwell upon the bright and joyous days that are past. What glad surprises some days have brought us! Our Father has not been content with common-place proofs of His love, but it has come to us laden with golden gifts, and joys that we never expected. Yes, our days of sunshine have been many, when we have gone away from the darkness — into the light, away from the valley — to the mount of God, and enjoyed holy fellowship with our Heavenly Father. The posture of our spirit was that of dependence and humility, and we found the blessing Jesus spoke of when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." Such times have been characterized by our feeling sensible of mercies and benefits every moment, by our hearts swelling up with thankfulness, and by our seeing God in everything, and everything in God.
The days that are past should prepare us for days to come, and teach us many lessons. With Jesus as the source of our strength, with His precious blood sprinkled on our hearts and consciences, and with God's precious promises to rest upon — we should look forward to the future with confidence and hope. Let us ever remember that each "promise in God's word is built upon firm pillars — God's justice and holiness, which will not allow Him to deceive us; His grace and goodness, which will not allow Him to forget us; His truth, which will not allow Him to change; and His power, which makes Him able to accomplish all that He has promised." We can never get below His promises!
The promises of God are of no value to us, until they are accepted by us — then the power of God is engaged to fulfill them.
A clergyman once visited a poor woman; he found her Bible marked here and there with the letters T and P. Wondering what the letters stood for, he inquired of her their meaning, "Oh!" said she, "those are the promises in my precious Bible: there are many of them which you see I have tried, so I marked them T; and many I've proved, so I marked them P." So, reader, if we do likewise, we shall be free from much anxious care.
God gives us but one care to bear — that is, to glorify Him, by growing daily more holy ourselves, and seeking to lead others to serve Jesus. All other care He bids us cast upon Him, because "He cares for us."
"Sometimes," says John Newton, "I compare the troubles we have to undergo in the course of a year to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole bundle at once; He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us just one stick, which we are to carry today; and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on."
We would avoid much feverish anxiety if we could "live one day at a time;" for the promise is, "As your day — so shall your strength be." But if we put into each day a week's anxiety — we dishonor God and increase our own troubles.
May the words of the Prophet be fulfilled in us, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You!"
The day of eternity is at hand — and it will reveal much to us that we know not now. Then, if found in Christ, our memory will be sanctified and blessed, and we shall think of days passed away, as days purified from sin by our Savior's blood. If not found in Christ, our memories will haunt us and become the instrument of eternal remorse. Let us so live that we may be prepared for eternity!
Here there are hours of sadness,
And trials hard to bear.
There all is joy and gladness,
Without a passing care!
Here there are heavy crosses,
Which weigh the spirit down.
There every brow is circled,
With an immortal crown!
Here wars, and strifes, and tumults,
Rage on, and never cease.
There not a thought can ruffle,
The deep celestial peace.
Here, worn with anxious labor,
Our life so weary grows.
There rest is one with service,
And work is but repose.
Here fairest buds of promise,
Droop in the stormful showers.
There in their perfect beauty,
Are never-fading flowers.
Here there are separations,
That almost break the heart.
There loved ones meet, and never,
Know what it is to part.
Here oft in bitter anguish,
We weep from day to day.
There God's own hand so gently,
Wipes all our tears away.
Here sin and imperfection,
The purest actions taint.
There holy as the angels,
Appears each white-robed saint.
Here we a little longer,
Must life's brief story tell.
There in the many mansions,
We shall forever dwell!
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:16-18