If the Lord Wills
Francis Bourdillon, 1864
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills — we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil."
A sick-bed teaches many lessons. Among others, it teaches this: "You do not know what will happen tomorrow!" For a sick-bed cuts short many a work and brings to nothing many a plan and makes a total change in many a life. It is not only the aged and infirm who have to do with the sick-bed. Many a man in his prime is laid there — many an active, busy person, full of life and strength, is suddenly smitten with illness and taken away from all his earthly concerns. All the work he had planned for this time must be left undone. All that he thought he would be so busy in — he can have nothing to do with. If it is done at all — others must do it. For the present, at least, a complete stop is put to all his doings. There on the sick-bed he lies — and there he must lie.
How few think of this beforehand! How few of those who form plans in their health and strength, seem to think it possible that sickness may come and put a stop to them all! Yet we have warnings all around us. If we ourselves are in health — there is no time when we have not some sick among our neighbors or friends. Sometimes they rise from the sick-bed and go about among us again. Sometimes they never again appear — the sick-bed proves to be a death-bed. We "do not know what will happen tomorrow!" — what changes may befall us, what loss may come, what sickness may seize us, or how that sickness may end. The present we know, and the past we know — but the future we know not. Even tomorrow is hidden from us.
Life itself is but "a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away!" Like the mist on the mountains, which the rising sun quickly disperses; or like the curling smoke, caught and scattered by the breeze as it issues from the chimney top. At the longest — life is but "for a little while," but often it is cut short in its prime. Men ought to bear this in mind. Plans ought not to be formed with no thought of God. All rests with Him. We ought to say, "If the Lord wills — we shall live and do this or that." For that is the simple truth. Whether we consider it or not — all will be just as our sovereign God pleases.
This need not make us unhappy or interfere with the business of life. If we are God's loving children — then we shall rejoice to think that all our concerns are ordered by Him. If we are walking in the way in which God would have us to walk — then we have but to go straight on, fearing nothing. And then, uncertain as we may be whether we shall do such and such a thing or not, whether health or sickness will be our portion, and even whether we shall live or die — we shall still be able to feel that "it shall be well with those who fear God!" (Ecclesiastes 8:12).
Whatever may befall us, we shall be in our merciful Father's hands — our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. He will order all for us — and He always orders what is best. Happy are those who pass their days in the constant recollection of God — trusting in Him, loving Him, following His guidance, contented with His will. They have committed their souls to their Redeemer in humble faith — and all their lesser concerns they now cheerfully leave to God. They desire to have no wish, but that His will should be done — whatever it might be. They know that His will is best. They believe that He loves them. They are sure that what He does, will be perfectly right and wise and good. What more can any desire for peace, contentment, or happiness?